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Forbes, J 

... Socrates, by Rev. J. T. Forbes, m. a. New-York 
O.-Senbner's sons, 1905. Edinburgh, Clark! ' 

S.«'. "•,„!)'"• ^""'f-""'' The world's epoch-makers, ed. by Oliphant 
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By Rev. J. T. Forbes, M.A. 

The fol lowing Volumes in this Series are now Ready ; — 


By A. D. Innes, M.A. 


By F. J. Snell, M.A. 


By Principal T. M. Lindsay, D.D. 


By Arthur Lillie. 


By James Sime, M.A., F.R.S.E. 


By Prof. J. Herkless, D.D. 


By Rev. G. M 'Hardy, D.D. 


By Rev. A. C. W^elch, M.A., B.D. 


By P. De Lacy Johnstone, M.A.(Oxon.) 


By Rev. William Fairweather, M.A. 


By Oliphant Smeaton, M.A. 

By Prof. D. G. Ritchie, M.A., LL.D. 


By W^illiam Clark, LL.D., D.C.L. 


By Thomas Smith, D.D., LL.D. 


By Prof. R. Mackintosh, D.D. 

DAVID HUME and his Influence on Philosophy 
and Theology. By Prof. James Orr, D.D. 

ROUSSEAU AND Naturalism in Life and Thought. 

By Prof. W. H. Hudson, M.A. 

DESCARTES, SPINOZA, and the New Philosophy. 

By Prof. James Iverach, D.D. 

By Rev. J. T. Forbes, M.A. 





.Rev. J. T. Forbes, M.A 

Edinburgh. T. & T. Clark 


Printed by 
Morrison and Gibb Limited, 




My Wife 


Among works dealing specially with the subject of 
this Manual the most serviceable to me have been 
those of Grote, Fouillee, and Piat. Of histories I would 
name those of Zeller, Gomperz, Janet et S^ailles, 
Windelband^ Fairbanks, and particularly Burnet, whom 
I have closely followed in his account of pre-Socratic 
thought. I am specially indebted to the teaching and 
writings of Dr. Edward Caird, to Miss Wedgwood's 
book. The Moral Idecily and to the introductions and 
essays in Jowett's translation of Plato, of which con- 
stant use has been made. For the quotations from 
Xenophon, I have used the renderings of Mr. Dakyns, 
whose praise it is to have done for the slighter author, 
in great measure, what Jowett has done for Plato. 
C>^The poetical illustrations have been given in the trans- 
lations of Way, Plumptre, D'Arcy Thompson, and Miss 
Swanwick, and much help has been received from the 
introductory matter of the first three, especially that 
^ of Mr. Way. I have tried carefully to acknowledge 
ti^ my indebtedness to other writers, but in dealing with 
ground so often worked over it is difficult to be 
original. The need of a list of books appears to be 
obviated by the numerous references given. 






I. Introductory ...... 1 

(1) The Political Conditions .... 1 

(2) The Civic Ideal ..... 9 

(3) Religion . . . . . .20 

II. Personal ....... 63 

III. Pre-Socratic Reflection as influencing Ethics . 73 

IV. The Teaching of Socrates . . , .101 


V. The TEACHiisG—conti7iued . . . . .114 

(1) Method. Prominence of Negative Criticism, and 

Misconceptions arising therefrom. The Idea of 

(2) Method — continued. Imperfect Systematisation. 

Positive Element. No Scientific Epistemology 
but use of Reflection. Procedure summed up. 

VI. The T¥.kCYLmGr— continued . . . . .151 

Interest absorbingly ethical. Standpoint. Value 

placed on Knowledge as Basis of Action. The 
Doctrine ''Virtue is Knowledge." 

VII. The Tl'RA.cni'SG— continued ..... 195 

Particular Virtues. 

VIII. The T'e.XQB.i'SG,— continued ..... 212 

Religious Belief and Practice. 



CHAP • ' 

IX. Tbe Peksonal Issues . ' .^ ^f Athenian 

Trial and Death. 



X. Developments and Summary 

. 265 




I. The Political Conditions 

There never was in ancient free Greece anything 
of the nature of the political unity which we attach 
to the idea of national life. Greece was an aggregate 
of little independent States, cities, each, so far as it 
was able, absolutely autonomous.^ So complete was 
the separation, that only in exceptional cases could 
the citizen of one small State buy land or houses in 
another State, contract marriage in it, or be a party 
to an action in its courts. The ideal in view was that 
the community should not be too large for each citizen 
to participate personally in its affairs, and to possess 
for it a value difficult of realisation in great empires. 
This held good whether the internal government of 
the State were democratic, oligarchic, or aristocratic. 
It was only in circumstances of common peril or under 
the pressure of the law of the strongest that these States 

1 Grote, History of Greece, ii. 183 ; Greece in the Age of Pericles, Grant, 
p. 2. 


could ever continue for any length of time in political 
union.i The confederations that existed at different 
times were so produced : and they usually lasted no 
longer than the danger endured, and sometimes not 
so long ; for often enough the Greek was prepared to 
sacrifice 'the common interest of Hellas for the advan- 
tage of his own particular community— Sparta, Athens, 
or'' Corinth. Internal rivalries were almost always 
stronger than the sense of the need of union. And 
this spirit finally brought its Nemesis in the loss of 
the liberty the Greeks loved so well. Enemies arose 
who knew how to play upon these rivalries, to 
separate the States from each other until at length, 
worn out by internal dissensions, Greece became an 
easy prey, first to the ambitious Macedonian princes, 
and finally to Rome. 

Opposing this tendency to isolation there existed 
certain non-political yet most valuable bases of possible 
union, which at the same time were marks of a much 
more ' profound separation between Greek and non- 
Greek, than any that existed between the citizens 
of different Greek States. These were the lineage and 
language, the religion and festivals, the oracles and 
customs of Hellas.2 Tradition assigned to all Greeks 
a common ancestry. To them, all foreigners were 
"Barbarians," however highly civiKsed they might 
be. All Greeks spoke the same tongue, the dialectical 
differences not reaching unintelligibility. All practised 
the same religious rites, and participated from an early 
period at least in the festivals of the Olympic, Pythi- 
an, Isthmian, and Nemean games.^ All revered the 
Delphian Oracle. All had the negative sign of absten- 

1 Grote, iii. 82, 276, 503. ^ 7^. n. i65, 181. ^ ji^ iu. 81. 


tion from customs found amongst the outer barbarians, 
such as "absolute despotism, human sacrifices, poly- 
gamy, deliberate mutilation of the person as a punish- 
ment, and selling of children into slavery." ^ Besides 
these influences making for ethical and social unity, 
although not for political union, there was another great 
institution — the Amphictyonic Council, assembling 
half-yearly at Delphi and Thermopylae for religious 
purposes, which was practically a league for the defence 
of the cities in membership, and for the guardianship 
of the Temple at Delphi.^ This body never seems 
to have realised its possibilities. It certainly sanc- 
tioned action, supposed to be taken in defence of 
the honour of the god in the various sacred wars; 
but motives other than religious were present, 
and on certain occasions it seems to have become 
the tool of political schemers. It never developed 
into what it might have become throuofhout the 
struggle against the East, the exponent of united 
Hellenic patriotism ; for its action when Philip de- 
clared war against Persia is too isolated to give it 
this character, and was, in any case, only taken after 
the Grecian States had lost their independence. It 
seems to have been often lax in observance of its 
obligations, ineffective in ameliorating the sufferings 
of war, and unwise in its judgment of political events 
in Greece.^ 

The pressure of events did indeed dictate to Greece, 
at some points in her history, the formation of con- 
federacies with greater cohesive power for defensive 
action. The Amphictyons were temple guardians : 

1 Smith, History of Greece, p. 64. 2 Qj-o^e, i. 95, ii. 173 sy. 

^ lb. ix. 461, 462, 465; ^miilis Antiquities, article "Amphictyons." 



they were never efficient keepers of Hellenic liberty ; 
and after Greece, united by the pressure of peril, had 
beaten back the Persian, it was felt the land could 
not trust to improvised expedients and the force 
of racial affinity to meet such a crisis again. Some 
methods must be adopted to unite the scattered 
elements of Hellas for more efficient resistance to 
invasion. Up to the time of the capture of Sestos, 
Sparta, largely by her military prestige, had been 
virtually acknowledged as leader of the Greek States 
in war, and the qualities which had elicited confidence 
at an earlier period were still hers, and exercised much 
of their former power. "For an instant after the 
battles of Platcea and Mycale . . . Sparta was exalted 
to be chief of a full Pan-hellenic union, Athens being 
only one of the chief members." ^ But many causes 
were at work to change this. The treasonous conduct 
of Pausanias, and the incapacity of his countrymen to 
readily adapt themselves to that maritime warfare m 
which the Athenians, confident and skilful, had gained 
brilliant successes, and for which they possessed 
much greater resources, inclined men to look favour- 
ably on the claims of Athens to leadership. The 
Asiatic Greeks (for the Peloponnesians still leaned 
to Sparta) were more inclined to trust themselves 
to a power that could make itself felt on sea and 
not only on land, and that was in a position to trans- 
port troops to Ionia, if need be to meet new attacks.^ 
Looking, indeed, on the history of the last twelve or 
fourteen years, it could not but be felt that it was 
largely through the bravery and enterprise of the 
Athenians that the Persians had been driven back. 



1 Grote, iv. 350. 

2 Ih. iv. 346 et seq. 

Marathon, Artemisium, Sal amis, and Mycale had wit- 
nessed their deeds. They had won fairly, it seemed to 
many, the right to the foremost place in honour, for 
they had been foremost in sacrifices. Now, when men 
were planning how to avert a danger which they felt 
only slept, Athens, by her activity and supremacy in 
naval skill and power, seemed marked out plainly 
as the natural leader in a contest which would be 
decided by victory or failure at sea. Thus the naval 
league was formed known as the Confederacy of Delos, 
to which common proportionate contributions of ships 
and men were made by the subscribing cities, and 
the leadership of this league was given to Athens. The 
preponderating influence which this secured to Athens, 
while it was, at first, fairly used, was, in time, made 
subservient to ambitious aims. From the basis of a 
league of equals, formed for a special object, what 
was virtually an empire was built up. Through the 
commutation of contributions of ships and men into 
money payments, the relationship between the leading 
State and the members of the confederacy became 
changed into that of an empire dealing with tributary 
States.^ From this cause and from the feeling that 
the growing wealth and splendour of Athens was 
owing largely to a misuse of special funds, the jealousy 
of the rival and revolting States, headed by Sparta, 
led ultimately to the formation of the Peloponnesian 
Confederacy, and to the outbreak of tliat long strife ^ 
which lasted, with some periods of truce, for twenty- 
seven years, and ended in the reduction of Athens to 
a position of political subordination from which she 
never again emerged. 

1 Grote, iv. 428. 2 75^ j^^ 331^ 


It was in the time of the incipient Athenian sup- 
remacy that Socrates was born/ and he lived through 
the days of its brilliancy and decline. From 469 B.C. 
to 399 B.C. almost covers the period. His youth was 
passed in the time of the changing union. His public 
life as teacher probably began soon after his thirtieth 
year.2 gy the time he appears as the citizen-soldier 
serving at Potidsea the equal alliance has already 
for years been changed into the connection of the 
Athenian empire with dependent States.^ By 449 B.C. 
the common fund of the league had been transferred 
from Delos to Athens, an outward sign of the changed 
character of the confederacy. And from this time 
forward until her utter defeat at ^gospotami, the 
policy of Athens was imperial rather than federal.^ 

Great internal changes had taken place in Athens 
itself. The democratic reforms of Cleisthenes were 
carried to the logical conclusion of absolute popular 
supremacy in the time of Pericles. Office was thrown 
open to members of the first three classes in the State. 
The power of the Council of the Areopagus, which was 
regarded as a drag on democratic movement, was nearly 
alf withdrawn. It was reduced virtually to a court for 
the trial of homicides, but its supervisory and censorial 
functions were taken away. After 460 it takes its 
place as a venerable antiquity. Henceforth all power 
is vested in the Assembly, and nearly all offices are 
filled by lot. There is no permanent civil service, 
no professional class of judges or advocates, military 
or naval officers. Appointments of functionaries of 
every kind are made by lot ; administration of law and 

^ Grote, iv. 419. 
3 Grote, iv. 354. 

2 Abbot, Pericles, p. 308. 
•* Ih. iv. 379. 


pleadings are by private citizens acting for the time 
as jurors, and again as accused or accusers. Every- 
thing is arranged with the one idea of securing the 
undisputed sway of the voters. The general Assembly 
of the Athenian citizens was summoned to forty 
regular meetings in each year, beside such others as 
necessity demanded. And in the times of the Pelo- 
ponnesian War there must have been many extra 
meetings. After the meeting had been properly con- 
stituted by sacrifice and prayer, and the business 
formally introduced by the president, any citizen 
could rise to speak. The power of the Assembly was 
absolute, and the instrumentality through which the 
power was used came more and more to be oratory. 
There was hardly any limit to the influence a skilful 
speaker could wield through the Assembly. If he 
succeeded in impressing his views on the people, he 
might, under the forms of the constitution, be the 
real ruler of Athens. Such offices as were filled by 
election would be given to his associates and fol- 
lowers; those that were filled by lot being very 
numerous in proportion to the whole number of the 
citizens, were certain to represent the average feeling 
of the body out of which they came, and not that 
of any clique of citizens who, on a system of 
nomination, might by some management have been 
able to set themselves in opposition to the will of 
the Assembly. 

The legal system at Athens, in the days of Peri- 
cles, the Sophists, and Socrates, with its complete 
absence of professionalism and huge popular juries 
of citizens paid for their services, was full of con- 
sequence for the spirit and temper of the Athenian 




people. Laws at Athens were simple and apparently 
short, as they had to be read to the people once a 
year for confirmation or change. But there was a 
marvellous amount of litigation. Whether it was the 
Greek intellect delighting in subtleties, or the fact 
that Athens heard more than the causes of her own 
citizens during the time of her supremacy, or the 
system by which those who could successfully sustain 
against another a charge of defrauding the revenue, 
for example, received a portion of the fine, and so 
litigiousness became fostered, that was the cause, is 
hard to tell, but it remains true that legal proceedings 
formed a disproportionate amount of the interests and 
distractions of civic life. And these proceedings went 
on before huge juries of five hundred members, sub- 
stitutes, indeed, for the General Assembly of the whole 
people, which the democratic ideal of Athens would 
have had to be the true judge. All this tended to 
give a decided cast to Athenian culture, mental and 
moral. The pathway to all kinds of public service 
lay through influence in the Assembly. It is true that 
occasionally a man like Aristides emerges into pro- 
minence through sheer force of character; and it is 
true also that the most influential leader the Athenian 
assembly ever possessed, Pericles, discarded all the 
usual demagogic arts, not only without prejudice to 
his power, but to its increase. Nevertheless, the fact 
remains that, by the testimony of men widely diver- 
gent in standpoint, the tendency on the part of 
speakers and public men in general was toward the 
gaining of influence by the art of pleasing; people 
were given, in the speeches, the views they wanted, 
not those they needed. Government by debate, with 


the Athenians, tended to the cultivation of the partisan 
spirit rather than the judicial; and the culture that 
could produce clever advocates, men who could give 
to measures adopted because of their acceptability to 
many, and their supposed expediency, the appearance 
of justice, was in great demand. 

II. The Civic Ideal 

The problems of Greek morality, when they were 
attacked by philosophic reflection, came to be treated 
largely as questions in political science.^ The col- 
lective unit of the State overshadowed the personal 
life. A man's moral life could only be approached 
through a theory of citizenship.^ True, the concep- 
tion of the city-State was essentially that of a unity 
formed by moral relations. But it was the whole that 
gave worth to the parts. And the idea of an ethic 
whose claims and ideals should be independent of a 
man's political environment is of later growth. The 
significance of the individual qxia individual had not 
emerged. As a Greek, belonging to the race possess- 
ing a combination of the best qualities of mankind,^ as 
a member of a city-State whose highest function was 
to ofler an arena for the play of intellectual forces,* 
and the cultivation of the intellectual life, a man was 
of immense worth ; apart from such relationships, he 
was a barbarian, naturally fitted to serve those whose 

^ For much in tliis chapter I desire gratefully to acknowledge my 
indebtedness to the lectures of Dr. Edward Caird, as well as to his Evolu- 
tion of Religion. 

2 Duncker, History of Greece, ii. 310 (trans. Alleyne and Abbott). 

3 Arist, Polit. vii. 7, 1327, 19^ sq. 
^ lb. vii. 3, 8, 1325, 16«, 1328, 21^. 



call to a higher destiny could be read in their higher 

natural gifts. 

According to the Greek idea of the State, intensity 
of political interest was in inverse proportion to extent 
of territory. All that a Greek most cared for was 
included in the range of a few miles beyond the city 
walls. In the seventh century, Duncker says, "The 
State did not extend beyond the district, nor law 
beyond the canton ; personal protection was restricted 
to the same boundaries, and freedom to the influence 
which might be exercised in a privileged corporation." ^ 
And when what at first had been necessities of foreign 
policy led to wider supremacy on the part of successive 
leading States, the altered conditions never ceased to 
be regarded as a deflection from the true ideal of Greek 

Within its limits the claim of the Greek State upon 
its citizens was absolute. Ideally speaking, man ex- 
isted for the State. It was only through it that he 
could live a life distinguished from " barbarism." Its 
institutions came to him either with prescriptive 
authority from a remote past, or were established by 
the free choice of the citizens acting under the sanction 
of the gods. Their public undertakings were not dis- 
tinguishable as civil and religious functions. The 
city's life in all its activities was hallowed by the pro- 
tectinir deities — Church and State were one. Reined 
in from expansiveness, not feeling, or not suflering 
itself to express, sympathy with the great mass of 
barbarian and servile life, the Greek mind threw itself 
with the greater intensity into an unselfish enthusiasm 
for the State. And this disinterested spirit of civic 
^ Duncker, History of Greece^ ii. 311. 


1 1 

devotion touches much that is best and worst in 
Hellenic life. 

It touches the noblest forms of sacrifice which his- 
tory and dramatic art enshrine. It has been stated 
with truth that Greek patriotism normally bent itself 
to tasks against which modern nations, except in some 
extraordinary access of feeling, such as that animating 
revolutionary France in her contest with the mon- 
archies of Europe, would prove recusant. Serving in 
the army or navy, sitting in the huge juries in the 
busy law courts, or attending the Assemblies where all 
important questions of home or foreign policy were 
settled by direct vote of the citizens, the Athenian 
was made continually to feel, by direct participation, 
the oneness of his own life and interest with those of 
the State. And if the internal polity of aristocratic 
States diflered from that of Athens, there was no dif- 
ference in the general underlying principle ; the whole 
moral realisation of the individual, his place and work 
in life, was found in State membership and State ser- 
vice ; and the State that gave so much could ask much. 
States like Sparta, if possible, carried the sense of this 
even farther. And the forceful brevity of the epitaph 
on the men of Thermopylae expresses the matter-of- 
fact fashion in which sacrifice to the uttermost was 
regarded. It was simple obedience to law. 

" Go, tell the Spartans thou that passest by, 
That here obedient to their laws we lie." 

Traditions like that of Codrus and dramatic creations 
like Menoeceus kept alive the same feeling. The 
Greek was not his own. He was the State's. " A 
complete dependence on the State, and the absolute 






surrender of the individual member to the body, was 
the sentiment that had grown with his growth, and 
formed the groundwork of his moral being. The sum 
of his duties was to merge his personality in the State, 
and to have no will of his own distinct from that of 

the State." 1 

There were various reasons for this absorption of 
the man in the community. The State was the 
supreme gain rescued by reason from the chaos of 
the instinctive life. It was at once the creation and 
the exponent of law, and in its regulations and institu- 
tions the citizen bore his own part. He was not under 
any alien dominion : if he obeyed he also ruled.^ He 
and his fellows were linked together by the invisible 
cord of Law, to which all w^ere amenable, and for the 
administration of which in democratic States all were 
responsible. No doubt special tribal kinships were 
regarded; but the main idea in the union was not 
pedigree, it was nationahty. Other cities were aggre- 
gations of men and collections of dwelling-places; a 
Greek city in the citizens' eyes was a human society, 
the organism through which the divine power in man 
ruled the common life. The discourse of reason, that 
made man what he was, had called the city into being 
(divine sanctions using human power), and sustained it 
continually. Law, which the citizen helped to make, 
was the real ruler. 

The spirit of rational justification of institutions was 
only fully applied within the limited area of the life 
of the ruling citizens. Their scheme of things did not 
include the barbarian and the slave as subjects of a 

1 Dollinger, The Gentile and the Jew, ii. 217. 

2 lb, ii. 221. 

polity rational throughout. Against the theory of 
Aristotle, which was really finding a reason for a 
practice convenient to Greeks, namely, that initial 
incapacity for free life existed in some men and 
justified their enslavement, is the consciousness of the 
opposite expressed by Euripides, who shows the posses- 
sion of a noble spirit to be no monopoly of freemen. 
The Helots were neither barbarians by race nor in- 
capable, as history shows, of one of the chief duties of 
the citizen, soldiership, but their serfdom was severe, 
even cruel. Everywhere thus, beneath the edifice of 
free life lies the substructure of slavery. To provide 
the Greek with the leisure necessary for political dis- 
cussion, intellectual and artistic pleasures, military 
exercises and athletics, the needful labours of life had 
to be performed by slaves. Ideally, politics and 
soldiering came to be the honoured pursuits. They 
occupy the foreground in the Greek picture of life. 
Behind there is a dim mass of slave workers upholding 
the fabric of leisure and culture, which was the place 
only of the privileged. To this broad statement there 
are many modifications needful. All the individuals 
of a community are never prosperous, and there must 
have been many in all Greek States who were unable 
to attain the conventional standard, artisans and shop- 
keepers. As for traders on a large scale it has per- 
haps never been insuperably difficult for the most 
aristocratic conventions to harmonise themselves with 
wealth. It is certain that, in the time of Socrates at 
anyrate, Greek Assemblies were made up of all sorts 
and conditions of men within the limits of citizenship. 
When he is trying to hearten Charmides to make an 
essay in political speaking in the Assembly, he asks 




him, " Is it the fullers among them of whom you stand 
in awe, or the cobblers, or the carpenters, or the copper- 
smiths, or the merchants, or the farmers, or the huck- 
sters of the market-place exchanging their wares, and 
bethinking them how they are to buy this thing cheap 
and to sell the other dear, — is it before them you are 
ashamed ; for these are the individual atoms out of 
which the Public Assembly is composed ? " ^ Yet the 
very tone of this question implies not a little Greek 
contempt for handicrafts ^ and the fact that democracy 
had swept into political life great numbers of those 
who practised them, had not yet quite altered the hold 
of the original prejudice on men s minds. 

Further, there was a certain mechanical rigidity 
about the conception of the unity of the State. It 
shifted the centre of thought and interest and de- 
votion from the natural relationships of life to the 
legal, from the family to the State. There was a 
fearlessness or rashness in the way that Greek legis- 
lators and thinkers followed out the idea of State 
supremacy, that makes modern experiments in social- 
istic legislation look the merest child's play in com- 
parison. Lawyers and thinkers were jealous of the 
family. No rival interest must set itself up in the 
minds of citizens that might ever conflict with civic 
loyalty. There is an artificiality here about the Greek 
State idea. It does not grow. It does not gather up 
within itself and relegate to a wider unity the unity of 
the family. It destroys it. The State will suffer no 
rival near the throne of its citizens' attachment. And 
in the ideal polity that expressed the deepest thought 
of Plato there is no room for anything but a thorough- 

1 Xen., Mem. ni. vii. 6 (Dakyns). 2 Qrote, ii. 503, 504. 




going communism. The State in which the essential 
Greek idea came nearest realisation was Sparta. The 
idea was never fully realised even there ; ^ nevertheless, 
the greater degree of approximation to the perfect 
subordination of the individual's claims to those of 
the State, to which Sparta succeeded in attaining,^ 
rendered her the object of admiring study on the 
part of Greek thinkers. And Grote shows that the 
" Republic " of Plato is but an idealised Sparta with 
culture added.^ Athenian life was felt to be unstable. 
The relative independence of the citizen made co- 
herence and solidity difficult. Though the freest 
Greek democracy suffered interferences with indi- 
vidual liberty that would be felt intolerable in modern 
States, this was not enough for the rigour of philo- 
sophic theory. " It was from the Spartan institutions 
(and the Kretan, in many respects analogous) that the 
speculative philosophers in Greece usually took the 
point of departure for their theories. Not only Plato 
did so, but Xenophon and Aristotle likewise. The 
most material fact which they saw before them at 
Sparta was a public discipline, both strict and con- 
tinued, which directed the movements of the citizens, 
and guided their thoughts and feelings ' from infancy 
to old age.' To this supreme control the private feel- 
ings, both of family and property, though not wholly 
suppressed, were made to bend ; and occasionally in a 
way quite as remarkable as any restrictions proposed 

^ Grote, ii. 270. 

^Cf. Pater, Plato and PI atoiiism, p. 182: ". . . the Lacedaemonians 
also, who may be thought to have come within measurable distance of 
that perfect city ..." 

2 Grote, ii. 307. 



by either Plato or Xenophon." i It was only by an 
extreme devotion that the small States of Greece could 
hope to maintain themselves in the independence that 
was so dear to them. Hence the supreme virtue was 
patriotism, the limited and intense patriotism of a man 
whose State was a city. To secure this other things 
must go. Interests that might conflict with this must 
be weakened. Thus domestic life and family ties, 
depreciated by custom, are dissolved in philosophic 
theory. In the ideal State it is feared that patriotism 
will suffer if kinship be allowed consciously to exist, 
and measures are proposed to nullify the natural link. 
No possibility is to be left of groupings of indi- 
viduals using relationship to further ambitious pur- 
poses. Theoretically, the citizen must live for the 
State as a Jesuit for his order. 

To this standard of her own thinkers Athens never 
conformed. Nor, for that matter, though extreme 
enough in individual subordination, did Sparta. There 
was a flexibility, a responsiveness to manifold influence 
and interest, a volatility in the Athenian mind which 
could not have submitted to any such iron rule. The 
Athenians got and kept the worst of the central idea 
—the spirit of the subordination of the family— with- 
out getting its best, a prevailing sense of the absolute 
need of loyalty, as the internal changes made in the 
face of external perils show. Of course. Spartan 
methods were never adopted at Athens, but the domestic 
interest suffered depreciation. Family life suffered. 
The low conception of it that prevailed reduced the 
Greek matron to the level of an upper servant. The 
picture of what is meant by Xenophon to be taken as 

1 Grote, Plato and Companions of Socrates, iii. 209. 





a pattern Greek home is, though containing many 
pleasing features, a little prosaic, if it be judged as 
anything beyond sublimated housewifery.^ And as a 
result of the incapacity for companionship in Athenian 
wives, specialised forms of irregular sexual relation- 
ship sprang up, all contributing to the strength of the 
dissolving forces at work in Greek society, and the 
shadow of the unnameable corruption that lies on 
Greek life grew darker. 

Furthermore, the Athenian culture came itself to be 
inimical in its prevailing form to the firm consistency 
of the State. In the time of the city's headship of 
Greece, the inflow of wealth and the possession of great 
artistic genius in conjunction resulted in the enrich- 
ment of Athens with works of art in an unprecedented 
degree. The Acropolis was covered with architectural 
masterpieces. Loveliness in marble dwelt in the open 
spaces of the city. The theatre was served by genius. 
In the artistic world of Athens educative influence, 
in taste and feeling, was thrown round every mind. 
Art was public, and men lived in an atmosphere of 
beauty. Suggestion and inspiration were profuse for 
the sensitive spirit. And while the training of Greek 
youth remained conservative, mental enrichment went 
to promote artistic appreciation. But with the advance 
of popular rule, and the necessity of cultivating those 
arts of popular address through which lay the avenues 
to power, a spirit became fostered in men that learned 
to set its own personal claims and needs over against 
the hitherto all-embracing demands of State loyalty. 
In the old days when a conflict had risen, it had been, 
as in Antigone, between the " Sacred and Eternal laws 

^ Economist, vii. 7-10. Cf. Benn, The Greek Philosophers, i. 1.58. 



of faniilv reverence to the dead, and the authority of 
a State Enactment." Antigone gives her l.fe ; but m 

riofaphPs himself from the community, and begms 
rnan detaches himsel ^^^^^ ^^ ^ ^^^^^^^ 

; treptio^ of'trtoMng a loosening of life from 
teToral anchorages. The real advance m he menta 
ilnd token up is disguised amid the general upheava 
Ind untt tha't discoLert fadfast minds^ In^P-en 
individualism in morals showed itself to many as 
decadence. It is certain that in some respect he 
Athenians under Pericles had degenerated tiom the 
ten of Marathon.^ What Pater calls "the ceaseless 
Stle " of Athens was fostered and sanctioned by 
^ove Lent by discussion. All things were treated 
L subjects for argument. No --^^ JT^^^^f JJ 
the border of which the speculator might not tread. 
Changes that had deprived institutions like the Areo- 
pLus o much of their power, and had largely destroyed 
Srtion for the past, emboldened men to deal with 
moral standards in the same way. It was not to oe 
Tsumed that Athenians familiar with arguments such 
asTose used to the Melians, which could be reduced 
to ^cynSly bald justification from custom of the 
princiXthat " Might is right," ^ would all be restrained 
Tv veneration for law from seizing their personal 
advantage in a revolution. The inner unity of the 




State was not preserved even by the minimising and 
depreciating of family claims. The effort to deprive 
the citizens of a possible rival in devotion to the city, 
simply resulted in a claim for independence being put 
in, not in the name of domestic life, but of personal 
self-assertion and free development. The compensa- 
tion devised by the Greek State for the relative poverty 
and baldness of the domestic side of things was a 
splendid civic life, enriched by the resources of art 
and spectacular religion. This reached its acme under 
Pericles. It accomplished much. Through an extra- 
ordinary conjunction of circumstances, the presence of 
wealth and artistic taste in Athens, and an affluence of 
genius at command, this policy was pursued for fifty 
years with results that have become possessions for 
all time. But the end attained was not perhaps the 
first end sought. What really happened was that the 
volatile, discursive, flexible element in the Attic Greek 
was increased, and the restraint and stability and steel- 
tempered loyalty which the thinkers found in Sparta 
— the State nearest to their dreams — was lessened. 

There existed, then, in the minds of those to whom 
the Socratic teachings came a traditional idea of devo- 
tion to the State still influential in the best minds, 
but reacted upon by the springing up of a claim for 
the individual, conscious of a life greatly enriched, 
and before whom possibilities of self-realisation in 
other ways than in strict subordination to the claims 
of the city began to rise. 

1 Benn, op. cit. i. 105. 

2 Thuc. V. 89. 



III. Religion 

It was the case, too, that at this time, when the 
more stable elements in the Athenian constitution had 
been greatly weakened, and the general aim was to 
make all legislation and administration a reflection of 
the immediate feeling of the citizens, a rationalismg 
process in matters of faith and principle had been 
goino- on among the more cultured Greeks, and its 
resufts had been filtering through philosophic teaching 
and poetry into the minds of a wider circle. The 
religion of the people had at an early stage developed 
out of the worship of ancient Nature-deities. Tiele 
says: "The ancient Nature-deities are replaced more 
and more by gods endowed, not only with the shape 
of men, but with real humanity, who continually rise 
in moral dignity and grandeur, and to whom the 
Greeks transferred the divine element in man." ^ This 
relio-ion passed through various stages of development, 
influenced greatly by the early and continuous contact 
of Greece with Asia, by the fusion, complete or partial, 
of various foreign conceptions of deities with their 
own, and largely by the play of Grecian poetic power 
on the ideas of the gods thus gained. The Homeric 
deities are personalised and humanised. They are, 
indeed, while of immortal strength and beauty, men 
and women of like passions with mankind, and their 
life in action or suftering is lived in conditions that 
read like the sublimated conditions of a Greek city.^ 
Nevertheless there is movement. The omnipotent Zeus 

1 Tiele, Outlines of History of Ancient Religion (trans. Carpenter), 

p. 205. 

2 Ih. p. 214. 



is influenced by the personified wisdom, Athena ; ^ and 
his will, in this way and by the fluctuating supremacy 
of fate saved from arbitrariness, is declared unto men 
by Apollo, who had already become the Enlightener 
of men.2 Through the influence of the worship and 
oracles of Delphi this system was still further ethi- 
cised and purified : the conditions of the religious life 
became more spiritual as the conception of its essence 

This movement was not without its checks; and 
before it reached its culmination, signs were not want- 
ing that the whole conception of Greek religion must 
undergo a change of emphasis, if it was to retain its 
hold on men's minds. In the latter half of the sixth 
century men felt the traditional explanations of the 
existing forms of things, the world's life, to be un- 
satisfying, and began to feel for some rational principle 
that would illuminate their mental world. But specu- 
lators and thinkers were as yet comparatively few 
Faith was still strong, and a new extension of power 
was to be given to the Greek religion by the un- 
exampled brilliancy of the service rendered it by 
Greek art, and especially tragic poetry. It was not 
the professional exponents of religion, the priests, who 
were to carry the sway of their faith over the national 
life of Greece to its farthest limit. The most influential 
members of this class, the priests of Delphi, indeed, 
rather lost ground during the crisis of the national 
struggle with Persia. They did not prove themselves 
worthy guides to the struggling patriotism of their 
land. Professor Grant says : " If the oracle at Delphi 

^ Cf. Caird, Evolution of Religion, vol. i. p. 269. 
^ Tiele, op. cU. pp. 215, 216. 



had boldly championed the national defence, the effect 
upon the war and upon its own future influence could 
not have failed to be great. But the oracle gave 
answers sometimes ambiguous, sometimes directly coun- 
sellincr submission and despair." ' Greece owed httle 
to hev professional religious guides. They gave reason 
for more than suspicion of their integrity, and yielded 
to party interests what was the sacred trust of Greece. 
This became so manifest later, in the Peloponnesian 
War, that the Spartan partialities of an agency sup- 
posed to give the pure revelation of the Divine Will, 
helped to destroy Athenian faith in it, and thus aided 
the influences making for scepticism. But before this 
state of things came about, Greek religion was to have 
a time of efflorescence. Such men as ^schylus and 
Sophocles were to reveal the utmost tliat could be 
drawn from it for moral culture, until a new standpoint 

was reached. n r 

^schylus^ was born at the seat ot the Ureeic 
mysteries, Eleusis, and is supposed to have been ini- 
tiated He fought at Marathon, Artemisium, balamis, 
and Plata^a. The atmosphere of his childliood was one 
of piety; the relationships^ of his life those natural to 
a member of a family of patriots distinguished for 
their bravery. The most unquestioned gemus, love 
of country, and profound faith breathe in his writing. 
No settino- of the law of retribution more deep or 
noble th^n that given in the AgaTnemnon the 
Ghoephoroi, and the Eumenides was ever held up 
before the mind of the nation. The leader of the 
Greek army sacrifices his daughter Iphigema, in 
obedience to what he accepts as a Divine command, 

1 Orucn in the Aye of Pericles, p. 93. ' 624-456 B.C. 




in order that the fleet may pass with a favouring 
wind to the shore of Asia. For this he is slam on 
his return, in the glory of conquest, to his home, by 
his wife Blood will have blood, and in turn Orestes 
constitutes himself his father's avenger, and executes 
iustiee on his mother and her paramour. But m 
the hour of the triumph of this primitive law the 
faces of the Furies, the avengers of the matricide, 
begin to peep and gibber about its executant. Fear 
seizes him : 

" Thoughts past control are whirling me along, 
Their captive slave : while terror in my heart 
Her p»an and her frenzied dance prepares." i 

Unseen by others, at first, these loathly ministrants 
of the vengeance of the older Gods of primal law and 
blood feud drive him to seek the protection of Apollo 
at Delphi. Thither he is pursued, but he finds his 
way to the stone of sanctuary and is protected by 
Apollo notwithstanding the clamour of the Furies. 
Then the scene changes to the Temple of Athena at 
Athens : Orestes is a suppliant, the Furies his accusers. 
Athena appears, listens to the statements of the various 
parties, and institutes the court of the Areopagus to 
try the cause. The result is the acquittal of Orestes, 
but the Furies are appeased by having given to them 
local honours and a home at Athens. They invoke 
blessings on the city, and their name is changed from 
Furies to Eumenides, the benevolent spirits. The 
curse resting on the race of the Atrid* is uprooted 
by the divine intervention. The relative right of the 
avengers of the law of blood-guiltiness, resting on 
» .ffisch., Choeph. 11. 1023-1025 (Swanwick). 



primal instincts, is compromised with the higher claim 
of sanctity for relations made by law and hallowed 
by revelation. Retribution is divine, but there is 
a divine redemption also. A subordinate issue is 
obedience to authority, the authority of divinely 
provided institutions. 

In iEschylus, Zeus is intermittently represented as 
omnipotent and subject to fate ; it would be truer to 
say fate was the last word of the iEschylean doctrine. 
But it is in its inconsistencies that the doctrine is 
illuminatino:. Zeus or some other God 

"... doth upon the guilty send 
Erinys' late-avenging pest." 

And in the Trojan War : 

" So for the dame, by many wooed, 
Doth mighty Zeus who shields the guest 
'Gainst Paris send th' Atridan brood ; 
Struggles limb-wearing, knees earth-pressed. 
The spear shaft rudely snapt in twain 
In war's initial battle, — these 
For Danaoi as for Trojans he decrees. 
As matters stand, they stand ; the yet to be 
Must issue as ordained by destiny." ^ 

Retribution is unfailing : man's sin finds him out : 

" Spoiled be the spoiler : who sheds blood must bleed, 
While Zeus surviveth shall this law survive. 
Doer must suffer." ^ 

"But who unforced with spirit free 
Dares to be just is ne'er unblest ; 
Whelmed utterly he cannot be : 
But for the wretch with lawless breast, 

1 Agam. 58-68 (Swanwick). 

2i&. 15G2-1564. 


Bold seizer of promiscuous prey, — 

I warn you, — he, perforce, his sail 
In time shall strike, when troubles him assail, 
And breaks his yard-arm 'neath the tempest's sway.''^ 

But the moral unit emphasized is the race rather 

than the individual. The verdict on the soul that 

sinneth is not merely that it shall die, but that its 

race shall lie under a ban; and the blessing of the 

righteous comes upon his seed: 

" Apart I hold my solitary creed. 
Prolific truly is the impious deed ; 
Like to the evil stock, the evil seed ; 
But fate ordains that righteous homes shall aye 
Rejoice in goodly progeny." ^ 

Judgment may not be speedily executed against an 
evil work, but it is certain : 

" This the sum of wisdom hear : — 
Justice' altar aye revere, 

Nor ever dare. 
Lusting after worldly gear, 
With atheist foot to spurn : beware, 
Lurketh Retribution near. 
Direful issue doth impend ; 
Honour then with holy fear 
Thy parents — household rights revere, 
Nor guest-observing ordinance offend."* 

The older views, belonging in their unquestioned 
firmness to a time and order passing away, find repre- 
sentation in ^schylus. These harsh Goddesses who 
pursue the avenger of blood are said to have the 
determination of men's destinies.* There is even a 
jealousy in heavenly minds of human prosperity. 

^ FumenideSj 550-556. 
3 Humeyi. 538-548. 

2 Agam. 757-762. 
*/&. 930, 931. 



Agamemnon fears to accept the honours paid to him 
at his home-coming, and the chorus share his feehng. 
The wise preserve their prosperity by resigmng some 
of its blessings : 

" SaiUng with prosperous course elate, 
Strikes on the hidden reef men's proud estate. 
Then if reluctant Fear, with well-poised slmg, 
His bales doth into ocean fling, 
Riseth once more the bark ; and though 
With evil freighted to the full, 
Floateth secure the lightened hull." ^ 

^schylus brings forth out of his treasure things old 
and new. Transition is in his theology from the 
harsher and less moralised picture of divine workings 
of an earlier time, to a softened representation which 
is virtually the result of a compromise. The Apollo 
worship and the Apollo revelations represent the newer 
spirit The older powers only partially humanised 
are conciliated ; they reveal to those who grant them 
rightful honour their benevolent will, and from the 
Furies become the Eumenides. It is not yet a complete 
transformation, but one on the way. The rights o 
the newer theology, that is more in accoi^i with all 
humane intuitions, tind recognition and a place beside 
what is undisputed in the old. o. i i • 

In belief in an order of righteousness, Sophocles is 
not less strong than his predecessor : 

"Would 'twere my lot to lead 
My life in holiest purity of speech, 

In purity of deed, 
Of deed and word whose Laws high-soaring reach 

Agam. 1001-1013. 



Through all the vast concave. 
Heaven-born, Olympos their one only sire I 

To these man never gave 
The breath of life, nor shall they e'er expire 

In dim oblivion cold: ^^^ 

In these God shows as great and never waxeth old. 


" No ordinance of Man shall override 
The settled laws of Nature and of God ; 
Not written these in pages of a book, 
Nor were they framed to-day or yesterday : 
We know not whence they are, but this we know, 
That they from all eternity have been, 
And shall to all eternity endure." 2 

But fate in an eternal rule of right does not find in 
current events its obvious and invariable support. It 
it were always seen to be well with the righteous and 
ill with the wicked, the problems of tragedy and ethics 
would disappear. But no such simple key can unlock 
for us the complexities of human experience. It is 
pleasant to be both good and prosperous, but the link 
that joins propriety and prosperity often cannot be 

seen : 

'• If one among the gods shall will it so. 

The coward shall escape the better man."^ 
Hyllus in the Trachinioi says of unmerited pain : 

«... The Gods. ... Oh pardon them not, 
For the deeds that are ever being done. 
Who, being and bearing the name 
Of Fathers, look on such wrong. 

1 (Ed. Rex. 863-871 (Plumptre's trans., Tragedies of So2)hodes, 
Appendix of Rhymed Choral Odes, p. 426). 

Lntigoiie, 453-457 (trans. D'Arcy W. Thompson m Sales Aitm, 

p. 65). 

3 Ajax, 455 {ih. p. 69). 



What Cometh, no man may know, 
What is, is piteous for us, 
Base and shameful for Them, 
And for him who endureth this woe, 
Above all that live hard to bear."i 

Philoctetes is not astonished that men like Odysseus 
and Thersites have survived the perils of war-time : 

"... For nothing bad will die. 
So well the Gods do fence it round about ; 
And still they joy to turn from Hades back 
The cunning and the crafty, vfhile they send 
The just and good below, what thoughts can I 
Of such things form, how offer praise, when still. 
Praising the Gods, I find the Gods are base."^ 

He voices moral perplexity and the sense of the 
mystery of pain. It is true that he tries to make the 
burden of the moral apportionments of the Gods lighter 
by showing how the sufferers are sinners also. But 
this is much less strongly brought before us than the 
passive helplessness of those who are swept along in 
the stream of fate. Ajax is guilty of rousing the 
goddess Athena to fierce wrath by boastful words, of 
asserting that his own right arm will get him victory, 
and he is punished with madness.^ His spirit is 
Nebuchadnezzar's, and his fate more dreary. Still 
here is not the purging of ancestral wrong, but suffer- 
ing for individual sin. Philoctetes* and Hercules ^ 
and others are personally guilty in some (and these 
very unequal) particulars. In such cases, while the 
discrepancy between the wrong and the penalty may 

1 Trachiniw, 1266-1274 (Plumptre). 
» Ajax, 766-769. 
» Track. 269-278. 

2 Fhiloc. 445-452 (Phimptre). 
4 Philoc. 1326. 



seem often amazing, yet the personal offence precedent 
to personal suffering simplifies the problem. 

In other cases the adjustment is less easy, Strange 
as it appears at first, the assertion in Sophocles, both 
of the social and personal moral relations of the indi- 
vidual, seems more unqualified than in iEschylus.^ He 
is to carry the moralisation of the religion a stage 
further ; but his method does not seem at first to pro- 
mise this. No doubt he stands for a milder type of 
Grecian orthodoxy. The general outline is the same, 
but harsh features are softened so that the general 
effect is one of exquisite beauty rather than of the tre- 
mendous and even oppressive grandeur of the ^schy- 
lean tragedy. There are modifications and restrictions 
of the older statements and developments that are new. 
But these do not at first seem to tend in the direction of 
clearing of moral difficulty. Punishment from the Gods 
descends with overwhelming weight on those who have 
not, like Orestes, chosen to violate law (granting that 
his choice was made in obedience to a divine command, 
w^hich is shown to possess a higher claim), but whose 
experience is one of suffering, not of conscious sin. 
The thought of a personality that is not individual, of 
a cliaracter and destiny belonging to a race, of guilt 
and righteousness as real and meriting punishment or 
reward, while yet they have their roots not in the will 
of him whom the Gods bless or ban, meets us constantly 
in Sophocles. With him the tendency is to shift the 
interest rather from divinity to humanity .^ In his 
view of guilt and punishment he seems sometimes to 

1 Cf. The Moral Ideal, Wedgewood, p. 95. 

2Zeller, Socrates, p. 31 : ''The tragedy of Sophocles moves entirely 
in the world of men." 






occupy the same ground as ^Eschylus. In both, the 
fathers eat sour grapes, and the children's teeth are 
set on edge. The hereditary curse plays its great 
part in his dramas, too; and from it there is no 
escape. But the emphasis seems to fall differently. 
Lives in themselves free from stain are made to feel 
the bitterness of sin's penalty. In the older poet the 
doctrine is simpler, a message of retribution, man's 
sin will find him out; in Sophocles the feeling is 
more complex; there is a greater sensitiveness to the 
frequent unintelligibility of the world's moral order- 
ing; to the complexity of the problem of individual 
suffering for family offences, and its resistance to a 
perfectly simple solution. The process of disentang- 
ling the individual from the unity of the family or 
clan has gone a little farther than in ^schylus.^ 
The position of these writers may be roughly illus- 
trated from Hebrew ethics. In the Second Command- 
ment it is virtually stated, and, in the early history 
of Israel, constantly illustrated, that the individual 
as such has no true existence. The strand of the 
separate life has never been separated from the 
unity of the family or tribal cord, in which alone it 
finds its meaninor and value. There is no shock ex- 
perienced by the Hebrew conscience in receiving the 
statement of transmitted guilt. Men act upon the 
principle, and slay with stones or swords the wives, 
the infants, and all the connections of guilty persons. 
Later, the mind reacts upon the command, and through 
its spiritual intuitions the command takes a modified 

^ Cf. Miss Wedgewood's chapter, "Greece and the Harmony of 
Opposites," in The Moral Ideal^ to which I am indebted in this whole 
section ; pp. 96, 97, on (Ed. Col. 

form. God requites the sinner in his proper person.^ 
Later still in Ezekiel, guilt and goodness alike become 
purely personal.^ The proverb that describes the 
nation as suff'ering for ancestral transgression is no 
more to be used in the land of Israel ; the single per- 
sonality, buried hitherto in its natural environment of 
relationships, family and national, is brought out into 
the light, and . an ethic that is truly individual is born. 
It is only, of course, in the crudest fashion that this 
progress of thought, spread over centuries, helps to 
make clear a progress spread only over two genera- 
tions. The parallel breaks down at many points. 
Nevertheless there are elements of correspondence. 
The morality of ^Eschylus consists of the doctrine of 
retribution; and the individual is still inextricably 
bound up with his race. Nor is it that in Sophocles 
his personal destiny is disentwdned from the family 
fate; but there is more consciousness (and still more 
in Euripides) of the fact that there is a destiny to be 
accounted for. The (Edipus of Sophocles protests 
eloquently his unconsciousness of evil at the time that 
he fell into his greatest offences against Divine law, 
but his race must go on ''dreeing its awful weird." ^ 
Part of the punishment of sin iEschylus believes to 
be the voluntary repetition in another form of the 
primal offence ; there is a personal endorsement of the 
preceding fall ; * but in Sophocles the incidence of the 
stress seems to be plainly on the absolute separation of 
the individual from the willing initiation of the deed 

^ W. E. Addis' translation of The Documents of the Hexateuch, ii. 68. 

2 Ex. XX. 5 compared with Deut. vii. 9, 10 ; Ezek. xviii. 

3 The Moral Ideal, Wedgewood, pp. 95-99. 
* Msch., A gam. 758-760. 



that is punished. It is not that, as in Antigone's case, 
for example, there is complete explanation of the tragic 
issue from her disobedience to the laws which have 
a relative claim upon her life, in loyalty to those 
which are of everlasting validity. It is that she and 
all the persons of the play, indeed, are caught up 
in the sweep and embrace of a law of vindicative 
righteousness, the action of which takes its spring 
behind all their lives. If the importance of the per- 
sonal life and the part of character in shaping 
destiny are to be emphasised, it would seem that the 
writer will only do it in conjunction with the 
emphatic statement of collective responsibility for 
the violation of Divine prescriptions. There is no 
reasonable relation between the fate of (Edipus, as is 
brought out clearly by Miss Wedgewood, and the 
desolation of his house.i Personally, he is free from 
offence in the matter for which he is judged; if, 
to be unconscious of wrong, innocent of evil intent, 
is to be free. It is not for killing a man, but for 
killing his own father, with all the consequences 
of that act, that he is punished, in fulfilment of 
the oracle. His protests make clear the idea of 
individual guilt; and his suffering emphasizes the 
ancestral wrong. He does not consciously accept 
a task from a God's hands which means the 
incurring of guilt. He glides unconsciously into 

It is here that Sophocles carries us a little farther 
toward the conception of the moral personality. 
Job said that, though he should die, he would 
hold fast his integrity. And the Greek (Edipus 

^ The Moral Ideal, p. 96. 



does not dream of affecting a contrition that he does 
not feel. 

" Ghor. Thou suffer'dst . . . i 
(^d. Yes, I suffered fearful things. 

Chor. And thou hast done ? 
O^d. I have not clone. 

Chor. What then? 
(Ed. I did but take as gift what I, poor wretch, 

Had, at my country's hands, not merited. 
Chor. Poor sufferer, what but that ? And didst thou kill . . . ? 
(Ed. What sayest thou now? What wishest thou to learn? 
aior. Thy father? 

CEd. Ah, thou strikest blow on blow. 
Chor. Didst slay him ? 
CEd. Yea, I slew him ; but in this . . . 
Chor. What sayest thou ? 
(Ed. I have some plea of right. 
Clior. How so? 
CEd. I'll tell thee. Not with knowledge clear 

I smote and f .w him ; but I did the deed, 

By law, not guilty, ignorant of all." 

Here is the clear conception of sin as born in thought, 
which was to emerge more clearly into light. But the 
statement of the individual's concern with it is not 
completely made when this is set forth. There re- 
mains, besides the moral unity of the individual, the 
unity in which his life has its roots, of ancestry and 
society. And, without this thought having its rights, 
neither Jewish nor Greek religious ideas can become 
clear to us. The saints of Judaism, the Jeremiahs and 
Ezras and Daniels, not only suffered with their people, 
but felt that they had sinned with them. They con- 
fessed the nation's sin as their sin, and accepted national 
punishment as their punishment. "We must, if we 

1 (Ed. Colon. 537-548. 




would be in sympathy with the spirit of ancient life, 
accept the belief that ancestral is, in some sense, real 
guilt. We nuist teach ourselves to regard the dogma 
of original sin as a great historic influence, what- 
ever we may think of it on theologic ground. The 
sense in which the individual is a fragment and 
the sense in which he is a unity must both be taken 
into account if we would reach the point of view 
from which Greek feeling confronted Fate and 
Guilt." ^ In all life, now as then, there are the 
fixed and the free elements. And the consideration 
of the fixed affects the estimate of the action of 
the free. If it is to sophisticate the moral con- 
sciousness to father sin on ancestry or circumstances, 
it is utterly to misjudge it to suppose that any 
perfect estimate of guilt can be gained without 
seeing the larger imity to which the Greek so per- 
sistently attributed moral attributes and a moral 

All pain is not mysterious. It is often disci- 
plinary. In it the reverential and submissive spirit 
grows. The hasty interpretation, which misses the 
profounder meanings of events, is abandoned, and pride 
and anger die in resignation. CEdipus pleads for exile 
to save the city from harm,^ and is full of concern 
for his helpless girls.^ Neoptolemus returns to his 
truth and simplicity through sympathetic pain felt for 

The aim throughout seems to be the construction of 

^ The Moral Ideal, Wedgewood, pp. 96-97. 

2 (Ed. Rex. 1449, 1450. 3 /^, 1452 sq. 

*Philoc. 902, 903, 965, 966, 1074-1080, 1224, 1228, 1234, 



a theodicy. Rest comes to the perturbed and shamed 
Ajax in the grave : 

"His death hath brought . . . 
Great joy to him ; for what he sought to gain, 
Yea, death that he desired, he now hath won."i 

And in the Grove of the Gracious Ones, the spirits of 
remorse and vengeance become the friends of the heart- 
broken king, and receive him to their asylum of peace, 
through which he passes to his final haven. He is 
taught to pray : 

"Eumenides, the Gentle ones, . . . 
With gentle hearts receive and save your suppliant." 2 

With him who seeks mercy they show themselves 
merciful. He has the vicarious pleadings of an inno- 
cent daughter on his side, about which he says : 

"For one soul working in the strength of love 
Is mightier than ten thousand to atone." s 

And when he dies it is by the mysterious but peaceful 
agency of the reconciled Gods : 

'* What form of death 
He died, knows no man, but our Theseus only. 
For neither was it thunderbolt from Zeus 
With flashing fire that slew him, nor the blast 
Of whirlwind sweeping o'er the sea that hour, 
But either some one whom the Gods had sent, 
To guide his steps, or else the abyss of earth,' 
In friendly mood, had opened wide its jaws 
Without one pang. And so the man was led 
With nought to mourn for— did not leave the world 
As worn with pain and sickness ; but his end 
If any ever was, was wonderful."* 

^ Ajax, 967, 968. 
« lb. 498, 499. 

2 (Ed. Col. 486, 487. 
* lb. 1656-1665. 



When we pass to Euripides the change is great. He 
is the poet of the new spirit of democratic and philo- 
sophic Athens, the friend of Socrates, the man who did 
for tragedy what his friend was said by Cicero^ to 
do for philosophy, called " it down from heaven and 
established it in the cities, introduced it even into 
private houses, and compelled it to investigate life, and 
manners, and what was good and evil among men." 
The main interest of the drama representing life is not 
theological but human. It is less the sustaining of a 
thesis, and more the presentation of a picture. The 
end is an ethical interest, which seems almost hidden 
in an emotional one. But there were other great 
differences between Euripides and his predecessors. 
The times were altered. Education was in the hands 
of the Sophists, and was largely a training in debat- 
ing power, — the usage of knowledge and rhetoric for 
practical ends in gaining pleas or places. Everyone 
either discussed or listened to discussions, or did both 
daily, and on all subjects. Changes had taken place 
in politics ; men had become accustomed to instability, 
one might say. Institutions crumbled and principles 
were abandoned. And the stage reflected this. And, 
because of this, Euripides has been misunderstood and 
decried by men who have allowed their dislike of the 
prevailing conditions at Athens to extend to the man 
in whose writings they have seen reflections of the 
upheaval and unrest of the poet's time. He has been 
called a rationalist, an unbeliever' a stage rhetorician, 
an unprincipled declaimer ; one who, while he is shak- 
ing the foundations of religion, plays the moralist.^ 

1 Cicero, Tusc, Disp. v. 4, 10. 

- A. W. von Schlegel, trans, in Donaldson's Theatre of the Greeks, p. 227. 




It has been said that Aristophanes "might assert 
without any excess of malice or exaggeration that 
Euripides had persuaded men there were no Gods."^ 
This is obsolete criticism. Euripides was the poet of 
the new spirit, the teacher who gave a new statement 
of religion, the humanitarian prophet. He used the 
critical acid of his keen reflection to eat into the 
decaying Homeric theology, but his end was not 
negation. He meant to moralise the Greek creed. To 
men who could not understand the end of his reflection, 
he seemed merely another dissolving force in Athenian 
life, distinguished from others by his genius. They 
cannot see that this man, to whom the Gods of Greece 
appear often as at a lower moral level than their 
worshippers, can be the preacher of a purer faith. All 
that wit, inspired by malice and principles of reaction, 
could do to blight his power was done by Aristophanes ; 
but he could not be prevented from securing the ver- 
dict, first of an " acute and honourable minority," and 
then of a larger circle that widens still. " More, per- 
haps," it has been said, " than any other ancient writer, 
he reveals to us the true inner Greek life, lays bare 
the secrets of its hearts." 2 His was not the spirit of 
fear. It was not the spirit of ideal calm and classic 
perfection. He represented the perplexity and passion, 
the suffering and love, the new doubts and new 
standards of a time of transition. 

It is hard, but not impossible, to discriminate be- 
tween sentences spoken in character and those which 
express the author's own view. And there are some 

J Dollinger, The GemilU aiid the Jew, i. 289. 

^ Way, The Tragedies of Euriiiides, vol. ii. p. 1, from which work the 
translations that follow are taken. 



things in which we may fairly consider that we have 
the true thought of Euripides. Scepticism springs 
from the moral inequalities of life. Talthybius, con- 
sidering the sorrows of Hecuba, asks : 

"What should I say, Zeus? That thou look'st on men? 
Or that this fancy false we vainly hold 
For nought, who deem there is a race of Gods 
While chance controlleth all things among men ? " ^ 

Yet the sufferer herself is firm in the faith that 
omnipotence serves righteousness, of whose existence in 
heaven we assure ourselves by its presence among men : 

"Yet are the Gods strong, and their Ruler strong, 
Even Law ; for by this Law we know Gods are, 
And live : and make division of wrong and right." * 

Agamemnon holds by the ethics that teach that 
experience reflects moral condition : 

" Now fair befall : for all man's weal is this — 
Each several man's, and for the State — that ill 
Betide the bad, prosperity the good."^ 

The man who has warped his own moral sense feels 

life to be : 

"a tale 

Told by an idiot ; full of sound and fury, 

Signifying nothing." 

He says : 

"Nought is there man may trust, nor high repute, 
Nor hope that weal shall not be turned to woe ; 
But the Gods all confound, hurled forth and back, 
Turmoiling them, that we through ignorance 
May worship them." * 

^ Hecuha, 488- i91, trans, by Way, The Tragedies of Euripides in 
English verse. 

2 II. 799-801. 3 7j, 902-904. * Ih. 956-960. 




But others can see in Polymnestor's own life the work- 
ing of the law of retribution.^ Foul treachery meets 
its just doom. 2 

Sometimes action, which is to lead to the expiation 
of ancestral wrong, is represented as being divinely 
ordained. For the sin of Tantalus, it is said of his 
descendant Atreus, son of Pelops : 

"... born to him was Atreus 
For whom with her doom-threads Fate twined a strand 
Of strife against Thyestes, yea, his brother." ^ 

In this li^ht Atreus was a fated criminal. 
And so was Orestes : 

"What boots it to lay wrong to Phoebus' charge 
Who thrust Orestes in to slay the mother 
That bare him ? — few but cry shame on the deed 
Though in obedience to the God he slew."* 

But fated sin can yet breed remorse. If a relative 
moral claim be made absolute,^ the passing identified 
with the permanent, the experience that ensues is that 
of self -accusation ; the dread of vengeance distracts 
him.^ The deed believed to be God-inspired is yet felt 
to be accursed."^ The sin is laid at the door of the 
Deity ,^ not in the spirit of the Hebrews who felt that 
there was ultimately only one real power in the world, 
and said, " O God, why hast Thou hardened our hearts 
from Thy fear, and caused us to err from Thy ways ? " 
but because of a supposed divine command.^ It is 
true that conscience and the spirit of reflection play so 

1 Ileciiha, 1085-1087. ' lb. 1247, 1248, 1254. 
4 lb. 28-31. ^ lb. 579-581. 

' lb. 285-287. ^ lb. 594-599. 

3 Orestes, 11-14. 
« lb. 37, 38. 
9 lb. 414-418. 





freely on the oracles that the divinity of those that 
revolt the heart comes ultimately to be questioned.^ 
But they are operative because, at the moment, their 
imperative is believed to be divine. The worshipper 
begins to grow more moral than his Gods, and will not 
call that divine which the best feeling of the race con- 
demns.^ (Edipus, too, was a fated man, and says as 
to his sorrows^ and deeds* that he passed to his 

"... the curse received of Laiiis ; 
For not so witless am I from the birth, 
As to devise these things against mine eyes 
And my son's life : but by the finger of God." 

All his life is the fulfilment of an oracle, even to his 
last finding of an asylum at Colonus.^ Mortals can 
only bear their fate.^ 

This fate itself, which is usually, in Greek poetry, a 
power behind the Gods, seems in Euripides to be some- 
times a name for their will ; "^ it becomes then a thing 
referable to moral judgments, not blind and inscrut- 
able, but a personal determination to be criticised like 
a human resolve on ethical grounds. Again, it is that 
upon which even Zeus is dependent for the accomplish- 
ment of his purposes : 

"I have mused on the words of the wise, 

Of the miglity in song ; 
I have lifted mine heart to the skies, 
I have searched all truth with mine eyes, 

But nought more strong 

1 Andromache, 1161-1165 ; Flectra, 981. 

3 Phrenisscc, 1604-1607. 

5 lb. 1703, 1705-1707. 

' Medea, 1415-1419 ; Uqyiwlytus, 438. 

2 Orestts, 416-419. 
* Ih, 1612-1614. 
« Ih. 1763. 



Than Fate have I found : there is nought 

In the tablets of Thrace, 
Neither drugs whereof Orpheus taught 
Nor in all that Apollo brought 

To Asklepius' race, 
"When the herbs of healing he severed, and out 
of their anguish delivered. 

The pain — distraught. 

There is none other Goddess beside. 

To the altars of whom 
No man draweth near, nor hath cried 
To her image, nor victim hath died, 

Averting her doom. 
O Goddess, more mighty for ill 

Come not upon me 
Than in days over past : for his will 
Even Zeus may in no wise fulfil 

Unholpen of thee. 
Steel is molten as water before thee, but 
never relenting came o'er thee. 

Who art ruthless still." ^ 

The main feature of Euripides' references to the Gods 
is that the object of worship must be moralised. Often 
it is the aspect of negation that is prominent, but it is 
because the popular pantheon is in his mind. He will 
none of it. Nor can he reconcile himself to the moral 
apportionments that visit punishment on a fate-driven, 
distracted soul. If the cry of penitence for a pre- 
destinate crime is heard, it comes from the bewilder- 
ment of suffering; the spirit that has risen to clear 
thought separates itself from the sin. Sins of its own 
remain, but for the God-apportioned lot, if it was meant 
to be different, the deity should have made it different. 
Sometimes his personages can speak the things of the 

^ Alcestis, 962-983. 



unpurged creed, as when Electra traces human mis- 
fortunes to divine jealousy ; ^ but the old submissive, 
irreflective spirit is gone. It is not an answer to 
Euripides, or to the minds for which he speaks, to 
say, " The Gods will it." He asks what is the moral 
quality of this will, and traditional representations 
give him no relief. Hippolytus declares the service 
of the Gods vain, because they are unjust. "All 
vainly I reverenced God, and in vain unto man was 
I just." 2 Theseus says the Gods have been de- 
ceivers; Hippolytus wishes that human curses could 
reach them.^ lolaus shrinks from saying what he 
feels about Persephone.* Iphigeneia is less fearful. 
She is revolted at the idea of a Goddess who can 
delight in human sacrifices, and concludes that it is 
mans invention, to hallow his own dark deeds; and 
that the story of the banquet of Tantalus is incredible.^ 
Herakles rationalises the Gods in whom he believes.^ 
Ion criticises the indiscriminating unmoral character 
of their protection.^ Hermione accuses them of having 
part in wrong.^ They whelm innocent and guilty 
in common ruin.^ Orestes accuses the God of folly 
and crime in the name of his own sense of what 
is fitting. 1^ Scepticism and moral disorder reign.^^ 
Still the working of an ancestral curse is felt as an 
ordinance of God.^- Ion expostulates with Phoebus in 
the plainest terms, and tells him that he and Zeus and 

2 Hipp. 1364-1369. 
^ Hcracl. 600, 601. 

1 Orestes, 971-981. 
3 lb. 1415. 
^ Iphir/eneia iii Taurica, 380-391. 
^ Hercules Furens, 1341-1346 ; cf. Acts xvii. 25. 
7 Ion, 1312-1319. ^ Androm. 901-903. 

» Suppliants, 226-228. ^^ Electra, 971-973, 979. 

" Medea, 409-413. ^^ jji^p^ 830-832. 





Poseidon "work unrighteousness." ^ Hecuba thinks 
the Gods to be " sorry helpers " in the hour of need, 
and prayer to them is a matter of propriety.- Life is 
a vain show.^ The Chorus in Electra is rationalistic- 
ally bold enough to reject the legend of the sun s turn- 
ing away from the horrors of the Thyestean banquet.* 
And the chorus in the Iphigeneia at Aulis is equally 
incredulous as to the Legend of Leda and the 

The orthodox methods of ascertaining the will of 
the Deity are not in the poet's eyes of much value. 
The art of the soothsayer is full of risk and 
temptation : ^ 

"... What is a seer ? 
A man who speaks few truths but many lies, 
When his shafts hit, — where ill shoots ruin him."'' 

Yet this critic of Greek orthodoxy is a man with 
plenty of faith if he has not much belief. Current 
polytheism repels it, that is all. True, the Gods he 
believes in may seem dim and intangible. In Helen 
the Chorus asks : 

"Wlio among men dare say that he, exploring, 
Even to creation's farthest limit line, 

Ever hath found the God of our adoring, 
That which is not God, or the half-divine— 

AVho that beholdeth the decrees of Heaven, 

This way and that in hopeless turmoil swayed ? ^ 

And sometimes divinity in things seems a principle not 

1 Ion, 486-451. 

2 Hecuba, 623-628. 

^ Iph. at Aul. 794-800. 
7 Iph. at Aid. 956-958. 

2 Troades, 469-471. 
■* Electra, 737-742. 
^ Fhosnissm, 954-958. 
^ Helen, 1137-1143. 



a person, a name for order in the mind and the world, 
'•' a power that makes for righteousness " : 

*' Earth's Upbearer, thou whose throne is Earth, 
Whoe'er thou be, past our finding out, 
Zeus, be thou Nature's Law, or mind of man, 
To thee I pray; for treading soundless paths. 
In justice dost thou guide all mortal things." ^ 

Yes, somewhat dimly embodied as compared with 
the clear outline and rich colouring of the robust 
Olympians, the Gods of Euripides' faith are workers 
of justice amongst men.^ Holy human love and their 
law agree.^ The end of a train of actions and events is 
that justice is wrought.* The " rod of the wicked " is 
not allowed to " rest upon the lot of the righteous." ^ 
When the element of wrong in mistaken obedience to a 
law that has only a relative and subordinate validity 
has been atoned for, the sinner is reconciled with the 
higher laws.^ The conflict of the claims, obedience to 
one of which has wrought the misery of Orestes, is 
stated by Tyndareus, who is all for the supremacy of 
law, with its ordered processes and the regulation of 
the instincts that found expression in the blood-feud.^ 
Orestes, to do a great right, did no little wrong.^ 
Orestes himself thinks his act of vengeance a wrong 
done in obedience to a right demand : 

"I know me guilt-stained with a mother's death, 
Yet pure herein, that I avenged my sire."^ 

The divine decision must arbitrate between the warring 

1 Troadcs, 884-888. ^ Phcenissoe, 155. 

* Elcdra, 954-956. 

^ lb. 1266, 1267, 1301, 1302, 1290, 1291. 
8 lb. 538, 539. 

3 lb. 1663-1665. 

5 lb. 1349-1356. 

7 Orestes, 491-525. 

» lb. 546, 547, 561-563. 



claims. If, in blind obedience to what was felt to be a 
divine mandate, guilt has been contracted by a breach 
of an equally valid law, the God upon whom the guilt 
is laid can grant absolution.^ Justice is not to be 
found in the blind following of any one of the many 
laws, each of which can plead its relative justification. 
The true oracle cannot ultimately be found in con- 
tradiction to the holiest moods and motions of the 

The theology of Euripides is not all innovation. 
The old jealousy of the Gods against immoderate 
power exists.2 But there is protest against a vengeance 
that does not discriminate,^ and when Medea dis- 
regards such protest it is not because of the old idea 
of inherited sin, but with the deliberate intention of 
striking at the heart of the false Jason through his 
children. With some inconsistency and waverino^, 
indeed, the moral unit tends to become personal. It 
is believed that a mistaken prayer can be recalled ; * 
that warnings are given to those who are falling 
into sin,^ and that punishment itself is meant to 
be a safeguard for the as yet unpunished ; ^ that God 
discerns the quality of oaths, and is not deceived by an 
obedience that is of the letter only ; ^ that man's efforts 
are futile unless Gods exist to reward riorhteousness ; " 
that if the " mills of God grind slowly they grind 
exceeding small," and it is well with the good in the 
end ; ^ that on the whole an optimistic view is justified ; ^^ 
that it is a shame if the knowledge of God include not 

^ Orestes, 596-598. 2 Medea, 127-130. 

^ Hipp. 891, 892. 5 Bacchw, 787-791. 
^ Iph. at Aul. 394, 395. 

^ Ion, 1614, 1615, 1621, 1622. 

3/&. 115-117. 
« lb. 1326, 1327. 
8 lb. 1033, 1035. 
^° Iketides, 196-200. 



the practice of justice,^ — a justice whose home is in the 

The human service dwelt on and praised is con- 
gruous with these ideas as to the divine view of things. 
If speculation emerges as to the origin of goodness, 
w^hether it is traceable to nature or to education,^ 
there is much insistence on a truly human ideal. No 
doubt in some things the poet occupies the old ground. 
The natural state of Greeks is one of hostility to 
barbarians.* Diplomatic untruth can be counselled 
when it is in honour of a God.^ Irreverence means ruin.^ 
Man in enjoyment of the goods of providence falls into 
presumptuous sin.'' The great virtue of Greek life is 
hospitality. It is the exercise of this by Admetus, 
even in his dark hour, that shows his worth according 
to the writer's conception, however little we in another 
age and land can be moved to see excellence in so 
poor a creature.^ It is impious to reject the claim of 
suppliants.^ It is the violation of the sacred law that 
protects the guest that intensifies Polymnestor's guilt in 
the murder of Polydorus.^^ He has sinned against Gods 
below and Gods above,^^ against what the Chorus con- 
ceives of as possibly separate, the claims of justice and 
divine law.^- In some sense sacrifice and feast are 
believed to expiate sin,^^ but the conditions on which 
prayer is heard are moral. ^* There is much about 
vengeance, but also something about forgiveness.^'^ The 
ideal of manhood is unselfish service,^^ devotion to the 

=* Hecuba, 595-602. 

^Ib. 1303, 1305. 

8 Alcestis, 1147, 1148. 
10 Hecuba, 714-720. 
13 Medea, 1381-1383. 
1^ Heracleidcej 1-5. 

1 Helen, 914-923. ^ jj^ io02, 1003. 

^ lb. 1199-1201. 5 Bacchcc, 333-336. 

^ Suppliants, 216-218. 

» Heracleidce, 101-104, 107, 108. 

" Ih. 788-797. 12 75^ 1029-1034. 

1^ lb. 1391, 1392. 15 i£ipp^ 1449, 



state even to the uttermost ;i Creon and Menoeceus 
are types of this perfect patriotism amongst men. 
Hippolytus, stricken by the God in answer to his 
father's erring prayer, mourns for his father more than 
for his own death; and Theseus utters the longing, 
"Would God I could but die for thee, my son!" recal- 
ling David's words over the dead Absalom. Greek and 
Hebrew join in the passionate desire for renunciation, 
wherein the higher self comes to its own. Love knows 
no rank, and the lowly service and sympathy of 
Theseus touch a deep human note.^ 

But it is in his pictures of womanhood 3 that Euripides 
gives us the noblest embodiments of his ethical ideal. 
The simple " unlessoned girl " Polyxena finds life not 
worth living save nobly.* She grieves for the broken 
promise of her youth, but welcomes death as the 
alternative of slavery. Hecuba wishes to die for her 
daughter, but is set the harder task of life, in which, 
however, she can almost lose her grief in admiration of 
her daughter's heroism.^ lolaus offers himself to be 
delivered up to the Argives to save the children of 
Herakles ;« his offer is rejected, but Macaria gives her- 
self for Athens : 

"Yea, I pledge me now 
For these, my brother's sake, and mine, to die. 
For treasure trove most fair by loving not 
Life have I found,— with glory to quit life." ^ 

And the soul of this sacrifice is in the perfect willing- 

1 Phcenissce, 968, 969, 997, 998, 1009-1014, 1054-1059, 1090-1092 

2 Suppliayits, 765-768. 

3 See on this whole subject, "Way, vol. ii. Introduction, p. xliv so 
Hecuba, 346, 347, 357, 358, 378. s lb, 591, 592. 

^ Heracleidas, 453-455. 7 j^ 530-534 * 



ness with which it is made. Renunciation is a law 
within the heart with the heroines of Euripides, and 
the ofFerinor is consummated within before it is em- 
bodied without : 

" I will not perish by the lot's doom, I ; 
For then is no free grace : tliou, name it not. 
But if ye will accept me, and consent 
To take an eager victim, willingly 
I give my life for these, nowise constrained." ^ 

Nor is the unshaken soul of this girl sustained by any 
glowing hopes. She wishes 

" That nought might be ! for if there too 
We mortals who must die shall yet have cares, 
I know not whither one shall turn, — since death 
For sorrows is accounted chiefest balm." ^ 

And such absorption into the universal consciousness 

as Theonoe speaks of, — the philosophically clarified 

conception of the after -world, — is the attenuated 

thought that in some of the noblest minds immortality 

becomes : 

"Albeit the soul 

Of the dead live not, deathless consciousness 

Still hath it when in deathless aether merged." ^ 

In the same spirit of renunciation Antigone, smitten 
with noble madness,* finds exile honourable,^ and re- 
solves to break the lower law that she may keep the 
higher.^ Alcestis, the sweetest, noblest woman of them 
all, freely yields up life to save her husband,^ conscious 
that the separation is of divine ordering,^ and knowing 
the full value of the sacrifice she makes.^ No more 

^ Heradeidce, 547-551. 

* Phcen. 1680. 

7 Alcestis, 282-289. 

2 lb. 593-596. 
5 lb. 1691, 1692. 
8 lb. 297, 298. 

3 Eelc7i, 1013-1016. 
« lb. 1745-1747. 
Ub. 301. 




JJ^° ^^^caria is she supported by hopes of future 

" Time shall bring healing-but the dead is nought." i 
The pathos of the sacrifice is not lessened if Alcestis 
appears in danger of being a martyr by mistake in 
dying tor a man who seems barely worth dying for 
It may be true (and certainly Mr. Way ^ seems to make 
out an unanswerable case for this) that Admetus is the 
conventional good man of Greece. But it is the part 
ot Euripides often to present us with unconventional 
goodness, as, e.g., in the spirit of his slaves. And grant- 
ing that the real theme of the play was not so much 
the devotion of Alcestis" as "the reward of virtue" 
this is altogether subordinate in impression. The thin'ff 
that, from first to last, stands out before the mind is 
that a noble woman is dying for a man whom no 
amount of poetical compliment from Chorus or Deity 
can prevent appearing an ineflfective and poor creature. 
It IS not merely that his father permits him to see how 
he appears to the cool reason of old age; it is that he 
has a shrewd suspicion himself that he is not quite 
a sound man. He is like the Rev. Amos Barton in 
Scenes of CUrtcal Life, who thought " himself strong, 
but who did not feel himself strong." Pheres thinks 
he would have done wrong to have died for Admetus ; 
and Admetus is not sure, under all his railing, that his 
lather is mistaken: 

"But I, unmeet to live, my doom outrun, 
bhall drag out bitter days ; I know it now."^ 

^ Alcestis, 381. ' ' ' ' — 

J ^t.n>z^.5 in English verse, vol. i. (Appendix) p. 421 
vol. n. Introduction, p. xliii. ^ 

^ Alcestis, 939, 940. 

But cf. 




He fears 

"... throngs 

Where women gossip ; for I sliall not bear 

On these companions of my wife to look. 

And if a foe I have, thus shall he scoff : 

*Lo there who baselv liveth — dared not die, 

But whom he wedded gave, a coward's ransom 

And 'scaped from Hades. Count ye him a man ? 

He hates his parents tho' himself was loth 

To die ! ' " 1 

Why should all this be anticipated if Admetus had so 
completely satisfied the Greek ideal of the good man 
by his princely hospitality ? 

In the sacrifice of Iphigeneia it is not personal affec- 
tion, but love for country that strengthens the soul for 
its action : 

"Lo, resolved I am to die ; and fain am I that this be done 
Gloriously — that I thrust ignoble craven thoughts away ! " ^ 

The fleet will sail, Phrygia be overthrown, Hellas' 
homes saved : 

"All this great deliverance I in death shall compass, and 

my name, 
As of one who gave to Hellas freedom, sliall be blessing 

Must I live, that clutching life with desperate hand I 

should be found? 
For the good of Hellenes didst thou bear me, not for thine 

alone." ^ 

She is born for others. She resigns her body unto 
Hellas,* and prays to be made the land's saviour.^ 
The spirit of sacrifice is the heart of friendship. It 

^ Alcestis, 951-959. ^ 7^;^, ^^i jy^ 1375^ i^-jq 

3 lb. 1383, 1386. ^ lb. 1397. ^ lb. 1421. 




is true, things with a semi-cynical air are said of it. 
Such as : 

"For in adversity the good are friends 
Most true: prosperity hath friends unsought." 1 
But the truth is not more bitter than the Hebrew 
saying, " The poor is hated even of his neighbour, but 
the rich hath many friends." But real friendship means 
partnership in pain. Pylades scorns to consult his own 
safety apart from his friends'.^ He must " share the 
suffering " as he " shared the deed." 

In all these instances it is the thoughts, emotions 
virtues of free Greeks that the dramatist gives us' 
But he becomes the spokesman of the class so loner 
mute, and so long considered unworthy of interest or 
care, the slaves of Greece. Here, if anywhere, the 
humanitarianism, which has so often gone with an 
enlargement and freeing of theological thought ex^ 
presses itself. For Euripides, as not even for his friend 
Socrates, the slave is a man. The old slave in Ion 
says : 

" There is but one thing bringeth shame to slaves 
The name : in all else ne'er a slave is worse 
Than free men, so he bear an upright soul." 3 
And so the messenger in Helen : 

" He is base who recks not of his master's weal, 
Rejoicing with him, sorrowing in his pain 
Still may I be, though I be bondman born, 
Numbered among bondservants noble-souled • 
So may I have, if not the name of free 
The heart : for better this is than to bear 
On my one head two ills-to nurse base thoughts 
Within, and do in bondage others' bests."* 

^ Hecuba, 1226, 1227. 
^ Ion, 854-856. 

2 Orestes, 1074, 1091-1097. 
* Relen, 726-733. 




It has seemed worth while to be minute and detailed 
in the case of this writer, because he images the time 
in which most of the work of philosophy with which 
we have to deal was done. And this as surely as 
Tennyson and Browning voice the questions of the 
middle of last century. Between the last-named poet 
and Euripides there is, indeed, the closest sympathy. 
There is the same intense humanity, the same interest 
in " problems," and the same excess, at times, of reflec- 
tion, of desire to look at a question from every point 
of view, which means philosophic overpoise to poetry. 
But in thinking of the milieu in which the teaching 
of Socrates wrought, no estimate of the contemporary 
ethical conditions could be even approximately true 
which did not take into account w^hat Euripides ex- 
pressed, and what he must have suggested. Within 
the fixed framework of Greek morality, customs, and 
faith there was movement in plenty, and the best 
register in art of that movement is in the plays of 




No character in Greece seems to be better known than 
Socrates ; yet there is a certain paucity and baldness 
about the mere recital of the facts of his life. He was 
a native of Alopece, a " parish " close to Athens, and 
was born in the year 469 B.C. His father was Sophron- . 
iscus, a sculptor; his mother was Phsenarete, a wise 
woman. There is no evidence of his father enjoying 
much success or celebrity in his art. The facts rather 
seem to point to a modest household and a lowly up- 
bringing. This does not mean exceptional straitness 
in the boy's training. The ordinary curriculum of a ' 
Greek freeman's son would be his. In the Crito ^ he 
makes the laws speak of the education in gymnastics 
which his father gave him, in obedience to their re- 
qun-ement. He would be made also to commit much 
poetry to memory, and to familiarise himself with 
Greek ideals in the concrete as they presented them- 
selves in epic and fable. Later came singing, dancing, 
playing on the lyre, and recitation, besides the physical 
culture of the gymnasium. At a later time still, those 
who were able to do so followed up this school course 
by attendance on the lectures of philosophers and 

^ Crito, 60 D, E. 



rhetoricians, who gave instruction in mathematics, 
astronomy, logic and ethics, and in all matters 
specially supposed to fit men for participation in 
public life ; but this higher education had not become 
general in the youth of Socrates. He seems to have 
-been trained to his father's profession, and to have 
followed it for some time. A group of draped Graces 
in the Acropolis was said to be from his hands.^ But 
his true bent was not art, but philosophy, and he was 
at length set free for its pursuit. It was Crito, 
Diogenes Laertius says,^ who, out of the admiration 
which he conceived for the abilities of Socrates, made 
him leave his workshop and receive instruction, and 
who continued through life to be his assiduous pupil 
and benefactor. 

How much he was indebted to others for initiation 
into philosophy is hard to decide. It is said, but on 
' no reliable authority, that he was a disciple of Anaxa- 
goras and x\rchelaus. Loose inferences were drawn 
from his own allusions, by authors who, writing long 
after, had no evidence of great value to adduce. In 
the Phcedo? wliere he speaks of the teaching of 
Anaxagoras, he does not speak as one who had been 
a personal disciple, but as a student of the writings 
of that philosophy. And elsewhere he is represented 
as jesting with Callias, whom he describes as a person 
expensively educated in philosophy, while he himself 
is but a " self-taught tinker." * How far he pursued 

1 Diog. Laert. ii. 19 ; Paiisanias, ix, 35. 

2 Diog. Laert. ii. 20, 121. Braiidis, art. " Socrates," Did. of Gr. and 
Eom.Biog., and Zeller, Socrates (Eng. trans.), p. 60, note 1, throw 
doubt on these statements as to his early life. 

3 rhccdo, 97 B, 98 B, 0. * Xen., Symp. i. 5 (Dakyns). 





his early speculations about natural philosophy, a 
study with which he professes to have been fasci- 
nated when young, we do not know; but that he 
was a competent mathematician is plain from several 
testimonies. Xenophon^ shows that his discourage- 
ment of the higher mathematics was not because he 
was unskilled in the study, but because it was capable 
of absorbing a man's whole life to the neglect of more 
useful matters. And in the Republic,^ Plato represents 
him as dwelling on the advantage of geometrical 
studies for the cultivation of the love of science for 
its own sake. We may be sure, in any case, that it 
was a mind well furnished, and, what is of more con- 
sequence, of as nearly absolute originality as it is 
possible to a man to possess, that he brought to the 
study of philosophic problems. His own words do not 
indicate much consciousness of indebtedness to other 
teachers. When Hermogenes asks him a question 
about the naturalness or conventionality of names,^ 
Socrates answers, " Son of Hipponicus, there is an 
ancient saying that ' hard is the knowledge of the 
good,' and the knowledge of names is a great part of 
knowledge. If I had not been poor, I might have 
heard the fifty-drachma course of the great Prodicus, 
which is a complete education in grammar and lan- 
guage, — these are his own words, — and then I should 
have been at once able to answer your question about 
the correctness of names. But, indeed, I have only 
heard the single-drachma course, and therefore I do 
not know the truth about such matters." This, no 
doubt, is merely his "chaff"; and whether he really 


^ Xen., Mem. iv. vii. 3. 

3 Cratyhis, 384 A, B, C (Jowett). 

^ Repuh. vii, 527, 



ever systematically attended the regular instructions 
of public teachers remains problematic. His method 
of learning was, no doubt, largely like his method of 
tuition, informal and unsystematic. But that he did 
learn something in such free intercourse with those 
who professed to teach philosophy, as he did from 
others, remains sure from his own words and from the 
nature of the case. No man in philosophy is absolutely . 
' without father, without mother. If anyone ever was, / 
it was Socrates ; but even he speaks of some from whom 
he received part of his philosophic education, possibly, 
though not certainly, in the way of regular lectures. 
His gratitude is not, indeed, always conspicuous. When 
the discussion runs on the possibility of teaching virtue, 
and the contradictions of the Sophists on that point, 
Socrates says : " I am afraid, Meno, that you and I are 
not good for much, and that Gorgias has been as poor 
an educator of you as Prodicus of me." ^ In the 
Menexeniis ^ he professes himself in music a pupil of 
Connus, and in rhetoric of Aspasia. But from the 
Enthy dermis^ we learn that, because of his age, the 
boys laughed at him, and called Connus " grandpapa's 
master " ; and as to his rhetorical studies, we know that, 
as Meno puts it, he is always making fun of the rhetori- 
cians; and these utterances in character are hardly 
evidence. The impression he makes is always that of 
a fresh force. He found the life of the city to be his 
teacher. His school was Athens. And, further, what- 
ever be the literal history of his course of philosophic 
instruction, we certainly have in the Fhcedo^ an 
ideally true picture of his disappointment with the 

1 Meno, 96 D. 
3 Euthyd. 272 C. 

2 Menex. 235 E, 236 A. 
4 Phado, 96 A et seq. 




\ -1 

unsatisfying character of the speculations which first 
drew him, and the experiences in the interpretation of 
which he found his philosophic call. 

" When I was young, Cebes, I had a prodigious 
desire to know that department of philosophy which 
is called the investigation of nature ; to know the 
causes of things, and why a thing is, and is created 
or destroyed, appeared to me to be a lofty profession ; 
and I was always agitating myself with the considera- 
tion of questions such as these : — Is the growth of 
animals the result of some decay which the hot and 
cold principle contracts, as some have said? Is the 
blood the element with which we think, or the air, or 
the fire ? Or perhaps nothing of the kind — but the 
brain may be the originating power of the perceptions 
of hearing and sight and smell, and memory and 
opinion may come from them, and science may be 
based on memory and opinion when they have 
obtained fixity. And then I went on to examine 
the corruption of them, and then to the things of 
heaven and earth, and at last I concluded myself 
to be utterly and absolutely incapable of these en- 
quiries, as I will satisfactorily prove to you. For I 
was fascinated by them to such a degree that my eyes 
grew blind to things which I had seemed to myself, 
and also to others, to know quite well ; I forgot what I 
had before thought self-evident truths ; e.g. such a fact 
as that the growth of man is the result of eating and 
drinking; for when by the digestion of food flesh is 
added to flesh and bone to bone, and whenever there 
is an aggregation of congenial elements, the lesser 
bulk becomes larger and the small man great. . . . 

" Then I heard someone reading, as he said, from a 



book of Anaxagoras, that mind was the disposer and 
cause of all, and I was delighted at this notion, which 
appeared quite admirable, and I said to myself: If 
mind is the disposer, mind will dispose all for the best, 
and put each particular in the best place ; and I argued 
that if anyone desired to find out the cause of the 
generation or destruction or existence of anything, he 
must find out what state of being or doing or suffering 
was best for that thing ; and therefore a man had only 
to consider the best for himself and others, and then 
he would also know the worse, since the same science 
comprehended both. And I rejoiced to think that I 
had found in Anaxagoras a teacher of the causes of 
existence such as I desired, and I imagined that he 
would tell me first whether the earth is flat or round ; 
and, whichever was true, he would proceed to explain 
the cause and the necessity of this being so, and then 
he would teach me the nature of the best, and show 
that this was the best ; and if he said that the earth 
was in the centre, he w^ould further explain that this 
position was the best, and I should be satisfied with 
the explanation given, and not want any other sort of 
cause. And I thought that I would then go on and 
ask him about the sun and moon and stars, and that 
he would explain to me their comparative swiftness 
and their returnings, and various states, active and 
passive, and how all of them were for the best. For I 
could not imagine that when he spoke of mind as the 
disposer of them, he would give any other account of 
their being as they are, except that this was best ; and 
I thought that when he had explained to me in detail 
the cause of each and the cause of all, he would go on 
to explain to me what was best for each, and what 



was good for all. These hopes I would not have sold 
for a large sum of money, and I seized the books, and 
read them as fast as I could in my eagerness to know 
the better and the worse. 

" What expectations I had formed, and how grievously 
was I disappointed ! As I proceeded, I found my philo- 
sopher altogether forsaking mind or any other prin- 
ciple of order, but having recourse to air, and ether, 
and water, and other eccentricities. I might compare 
him to a person who began by maintaining generally 
that mind is the cause of the actions of Socrates, but 
who, when he endeavoured to explain the causes of 
my several actions in detail, went on to show that I 
sit here because my body is made up of bones and 
muscles ; and the bones, as he would say, are hard, 
and have joints which divide them ; and the muscles 
are elastic, and they cover the bones, which have also 
a covering or environment of flesh and skin which 
contains them ; and as the bones are lifted at their 
joints by the contraction or relaxation of the muscles, 
I am able to bend my limbs, and this is why I am 
sitting here in a curved posture — that is what he 
would say ; and he would have a similar explanation 
of my talking to you, which he would attribute to 
sound and air and hearing, and he would assign ten 
thousand other causes of the same sort, forgetting to 
mention the true cause, which is, that the Athenians 
have thought fit to condemn me, and accordingly I 
have thought it better and more right to remain here 
and undergo my sentence ; for I am inclined to think 
that these muscles and bones of mine would have gone 
off long ago to Megara or Boeotia — by the dog they 
would, if they had been moved only by their own 




idea of what was best, and if I had not chosen the 
better and nobler part, instead of playing truant and 
running away, of enduring any punishment which the 
State inflicts. There is surely a strange confusion of 
causes and conditions in all this. It may be said, 
indeed, that without bones and muscles and the other 
parts of the body I cannot execute my purposes. But 
to say that I do as I do because of them, and that this 
is the way in which mind acts, and not from the 
choice of the best, is a very careless and idle mode of 
speaking. I wonder that they cannot distinguish the 
cause from the condition, which the many, feeling about 
in the dark, are always mistaking and misnaming." 

The Platonic colouring of the Fhcedo does not hide 
the essential truth of this description of his feelings at 
the outset of his philosophic search. His interests from 
the first were not really in natural science, but philo- 
sophic in the strict sense. And his independence to so 
great an extent of other minds is doubtless connected 
with this repulsion from the pursuits of the natural 
philosophers. He struck out his own path. 

When it was that he gave himself up to philosophy, 
we do not know with any exactness. The restraints 
of the divine voice, of which, through life, he was at 
intervals conscious, became at some point absolute, 
and prevented him occupying himself with the common 
pursuits of an Athenian citizen. And it can be inferred 
from the story of Chrerephon's visit to the oracle 
at Delphi, that others had begun to recognise those 
gifts of introspection and thought which marked him 
out for a philosophic career before he possessed any 
*' clearness " on the subject himself. It does not appear 
that the oracular verdict smote anyone but himself 



with surprise. And indeed, even after this conscious- 
ness of a mission had become clear, we have pictures 
of him faithfully serving his country when summoned 
to do so, whether as judge or soldier. The expedition 
to Potidaea took place in 432. By that time Socrates 
was thirty-six years of age. Before that, we think, ' 
reflection must have claimed him, for he was evidently 
a marked man among the troops, the astonishment 
being that a man of his wonted pursuits, a thinker and 
a student, should manifest himself to be so good a 
soldier. In the Symposium,^ Alcibiades is made to 
say that he and Socrates messed together on the ex- 
pedition to Potidoea, "and I had the opportunity of . 
observing his extraordinary power of sustaining 
fatigue. His endurance was simply marvellous when, 
being cut oft' from our supplies, we were compelled to 
go without food — on such occasions, which often happen 
in time of war, he was superior not only to me but 
to everybody ; there was no one to be compared to 
him. . . . His fortitude in enduring cold was also sur- 
prising. There was a severe frost, for the winter in 
that region is really tremendous, and everybody else 
either remained indoors, or, if they w^ent out, had on 
an amazing quantity of clothes, and were well shod, 
and had their feet swathed in felt and fleeces : in the 
midst of this Socrates, with his bare feet on the ice 
and in his ordinary dress, marched better than the 
other soldiers who had shoes, and they looked daggers 
at him because he seemed to despise them." He fought ^ 
also at Delium, and shared in the retreat of the de- 
feated Athenians; and again at Amphipolis, wdien 
Brasidas the hero and Cleon the demagogue both fell. 

1 Symposium, 219 E, 220 A, B. 


^ >i 62 





These military expeditions in which Socrates partici- 
pated did not reflect much credit on his country's 
prowess. The service at Potidaea was a slow blockade 
of two years, issuing eventually in an Athenian success. 
Delium was a sore defeat, and Amphipolis a shameful 
one, marked by panic in the men and cowardice in the 
general. But the part of Socrates, though only that of 
a private man, would, we are sure, be played in such 
a way as to bear out his own words, when, refusing to 
make any unworthy compliances to save his life, he 
says, " Strange indeed would be my conduct, O men of 
Athens, if I, who, when I was ordered by the generals 
whom you chose to command me at Potidaea and 
Amphipolis and Delium, remained where they placed 
me, like any other man facing death — if now, when, 
as I conceive and imagine, God orders me to fulfil 
the philosopher's mission of searching into myself and 
other men, I were to desert my post through fear of 
death or any other fear ; . . . and I might justly be 
arraigned in court for denying the existence of the 
gods if I disobe}'ed the oracle because I was afraid of 
death, fancying that I was wise when I was not 



And although, in obedience to the conviction that 
God had summoned him to abstain from voluntary 
participation in politics, he never entered public life, 
yet he was neither unfaithful nor timid in the discharge 
of the civic duties which Athens laid upon her sons. 
After the victory of Arginusae, when the generals were 
put on their trial for neglecting to save the wounded 
and to recover the bodies of the Athenian dead from 
the triremes that had been put out of action, and when 

1 Ajwlogy, 28 E, 29 A. 

] 1 

an illegal proposition was put forward, in a moment of . 
passion, to the effect that all the accused should be con- 
demned or acquitted by a single vote of the assembly 
without being heard in their defence before sworn 
jurors, and the senators of the presiding tribe were 
being overawed by popular feeling, Socrates, who was 
one of the Prytanes, could be moved by no clamour to 
depart from his solitary protest against this illegal and 
morally wrong course.^ And again, when in the reign 
of terror at Athens, under the Thirty, Socrates was 
one of five citizens whom, in accordance with their 
customary policy of involving others in their criminal 
acts, the Tyrants ordered to proceed to Salamis to 
arrest Leon, he declined obedience and went home.^ 
He says in the AiJology : " That government with all 
its power did not terrify me into doing anything 
wrong ; but when we left the Council-Chamber the 
other four went over to Salamis, and brought Leon 
across to Athens ; and I went away home : and if the 
rule of the Thirty had not been destroyed soon after- 
wards I should very likely have been put to death for 
what I did then." These were the most noteworthy 
incidents of his life, so far as it was impinged upon 
by the politics of his time. He took no voluntary part 
in public life. He met the claims of the State upon his 
services by loyal obedience. But where a conflict be- 
tween civil claims and conscience emerged, he followed 
the inner light. 

Of what we understand by home life neither he nor 
others of his time knew much. The Greek matron was 
not the companion of her husband. Her education 

^ Apol, 32 A, B, C ; Xen., Mem. i. i. 17, 18, iv. iv. 2. 

2 Apol 32 (Churcli) ; Xen., Mem. iv. iv. 3 ; Diog. Laert. ii. 24. 





fitted her for domestic duties, but not for intellectual 
comradeship. And when the Athenians of that day 
sought this in woman, they usually found it in the 
formation of those irregular relationships, typified by 
that of Pericles and Aspasia, which were so marked a 
feature of Greek life. The wife of Socrates, Xanthippe, 
has had perhaps scant justice done her in history. 
She was said to have a bitter tongue, and has been 
generally treated as the type of the untamed shrew. 
There is something perhaps to be said from her point 
of view. No doubt Socrates was a trial. He cared 
nothing for business or anything but his philosophic 
mission. He seems to have been able to live without 
following any other avocation. Unless the explana- 
tion \ be true, that the rich Crito supported him, one 
must suppose that he had a little property, for he took 
no fees from his disciples. He describes himself at the 
end of his life as being in great poverty, owing to this 
devotion of his to philosophy. One suspects that he 
was not " a good provider," and that Xanthippe needed 
all her philosophy when he took people unexpectedly 
home to supper, and sought to quiet her distress by 
saying, " Be of good cheer ; if our friends are sensible 
people they will take us as they find us ; if they are 
paltry folk, we won't trouble about them."^ There 
are many stories and bits of petty gossip about 
Xanthippe in late authors. Such as that, when 
on one occasion she had finished her passionate 
abuse of Socrates by flinging water upon him, he 
answered : " Did not I remark that Xanthippe was 
thundering and was going to rain ? " ^ Or that other 
bit of gossip which asserts that iEschines procured 


1 Diog. Laert. il 20, 121. 

2 lb. ii. 34. 

3 lb. ii. 36. 

dialogues written by Socrates from Xanthippe and 
passed them off as his own/ the value of which may 
be gauged from our knowledge of the general agree- 
ment of testimonies that Socrates wrote no dialogues, 
nor, indeed, anything else, unless the prison exercises 
of which Plato tells us be supposed to count. Such 
stories appear about all great or singular characters, 
almost in parallel streams of idealisation by disciples^ 
or depreciation by pickers-up of " unconsidered trifles," 
such as some of the later Greek writers. A juster view 
of a relationship which cannot be regarded as happy is to 
be gained from considering what the great authorities 
Plato and Xenophon relate. Xenophon,^ indeed, in 
the very passage in which Lamprocles, the eldest son of 
Socrates, is brought in as complaining that his mother's 
ill-humour is unendurable, represents Socrates as ex- 
postulating with him, and showing him what he has 
owed to his mother's love and care all through life. 
Whether her children understood her or not, it would 
seem plain that Socrates could discern the real affection 
often hidden by Xanthippe's shrewishness of speech. 
And although the parting scene in the Fhcedo seems to 
us repellently cold, the grief on the woman's side at 
least is evidence of genuine attachment. Socrates him- 
self manifested no deep feehng. His last hours were 
spent talking with his friends, his wife and children 
having been dismissed to be readmitted before the end 
only to say farewell. There is little more to be said 
about the matter. The marriage relationships of great 
men are often infelicitous. The question only seems to 
engage a bit of their minds. They are like Thales, 
" when he fell into a well as he was looking up at the 

^ Diog. Laert. ii. 60. 

^ Mem. II. ii. 



stars ... so eager to know what was going on in heaven 
that he could not see what was before his feet." ^ 

The real life of Socrates was that of the thinker and 
philosophic missionary. By the time he was satirised 
in The Clovds of Aristophanes (424 B.C.) he must 
have become well known as a philosopher. He was 
then well on in middle life,— forty-four,— and for how 
many years he had been engaged in his pursuit we 
cannot tell. The account he gives in the Apology, while 
it reads as the description of his call, even if it cannot 
be accepted as historical, does at least imply that by 
some (of whom Chserephon was a tj^e) he was already 
recognised as exceptional for wisdom, his own con- 
sciousness of ignorance notwithstanding, even before 
that complete devotion of himself to the examination 
of his own and other minds which filled his remaining 
years.2 Perhaps it would not be far wrong to say that 
before he was much more than thirty years of age he 
had found some discerning spirits with whom he held 
fellowship in philosophy, and was becoming recognised 
in Athens as a moral thinker. Henceforth for a 
generation he made reflection and examination of him- 
self and others the business of his life. He was no 
professional teacher. He received no fees. His pupils 
were companions, fellow-searchers for truth. He felt 
himself to be called of God to this work. His bodily 
wants;were few and simple ; his mental needs and the 
needs of those about him he felt to be imperative. To 
obtain satisfaction for them, and to help others to a 
similar satisfaction, was for him the most useful work 
of the time. In the streets and markets, the wrestling 

1 Thecctehcs, 174 A. 

- Phccdo, 96 A ; cf. Zeller, Socrates, pp. 59, 60 n. 3, 61 n. 1. 





schools and gymnasia, he found his academy, and in 
every listening group his pupils. Among all her 
citizens Athens had no more constant lover than this 
keen critic of her institutions and her life. "I am 
a lover of knowledge," he said, " and in the city I can 
learn from men ; but the fields and the trees can teach 
me nothing."^ No man was further from the mood 
expressed in Wordsworth's lines : 

'* One impulse from a vernal wood 
May teach you more of man, 
Of moral evil and of good, 
Than all the sages can." 

His delights, like Wisdom's, were with the sons of men : 
men of all sorts and conditions, — mechanics, sculptors, 
poets, politicians, teachers, — all were of interest to 
him, and from all he gathered matter for philosophic 
thought. " He was always in the public eye, for he 
used to go early in the morning to the public walks 
and gymnasia ; and when the market was full he was 
to be seen there, and the remainder of the day he was 
always where he would meet most people." ^ Disclaim- 
ing the power to impart a positive body of knowledge 
to others, he was incessantly on the outlook for those 
with whom he might in common pursue truth. And 
with such receptive spirits as he found he kept continu- 
ally discoursing upon human duties, examining what 
was pious or impious, good or bad, just or unjust, sane 
or insane, brave or cowardly. He asked what a State 
was and what a statesman, what the nature of rule 
over men and the quality of a governor, and about 
other matters ; and he thought those who understood 

Pha:drus, 230 D. 

2 Xen. Me7n. i. i. 10. 





these things were good and noble, and those who knew 
nothing about them might properly be called slaves.^ 

This kind of life Socrates pursued certainly for at 
least thirty years, probably longer. And during this 
time he put the stamp of his thought upon tlie finest 
minds among the younger men of Athens. The in- 
genuous and impressionable inquirer in matters of 
moral principle or statecraft found a fascination in his 
society and teaching, which amply compensated for 
some conversational discomfiture at their first meetincr. 
Greek wit and good fellowship, admiration for per- 
sonal beauty or dexterity, interest in every phase of 
life, insatiable appetite for speech,— all were means of 
attraction to one or other class of his fellow-country- 
men. If they continued with him for a little time the 
spell came upon them. Alcibiades was one out of some 
few men who, while they felt the greatness of Socrates, 
never really caught his spirit, who remained misthriven 
products of the Socratic training, and whose after 
careers, so harmful to their country, were turned into 
an argument against the teaching of the man whom 
they once owned as master. But he made no mistake 
as to the character of the influence that for a time held 
him, and that fully yielded to might have made him as 
prominent in service to Greece as he came to be in 
injuries. At the words of Socrates, he says,2 "my 
heart leaps within me more than that of any Cory- 
bantian reveller, and my eyes rain tears when I hear 
them. And I observe that many others are affected in 
the same manner. I have heard Pericles and other 
great orators, and I thought that they spoke well, but 
I never had any similar feeling ; my soul was' not 

' Xen., Mem, i. i. 16. 2 ^^,„^,^ 215 D, E, 216 A, B, C. 

stirred by them, nor was I angry at the thought of my 
own slavish state. But this Marsyas has often brought 
me to such a pass that I have felt as if I could hardly 
endure the life which I am leading (this, Socrates, you 
will admit) ; and I am conscious that if I did not shut 
my ears against him, and fly as from the voice of the 
siren, my fate would be like that of others, — he would 
transfix me, and I should grow old sitting at his feet. 
For he makes me confess that I ought not to live as I 
do, neglecting the wants of my own soul, and busying 
myself with the concerns of the Athenians ; therefore I 
hold my ears, and tear myself away from him. And he 
is the only person who ever made me ashamed, which 
you might think not to be in my nature, and there is 
no one else who does the same. For I know that I 
cannot answer him or say that I ought not to do as he 
bids, but when I leave his presence the love of popu- 
larity gets the better of me. And therefore I run away 
and fly from him, and when I see him I am ashamed of 
what I have confessed to him. Many a time have I 
wished that he were dead, and yet I know that I should 
be much more sorry than glad, if he were to die, so that 
I am at my wits' end." 

But the course of life Socrates pursued made him 
enemies as well as friends.^ Fascinated by the ideal 
of a true knowledge and deprecating the pretence of 
its possession, his examination of all assumptions was 
searching and merciless. Self-conceit was pierced, and 
imaginary mental riches disappeared. Not all men 
could endure this. Nor could others understand the 
incessant raising of questions about what they con- 

^ Apol. 21-23. Cf. remarks of E. Yon Lesaulx, Des Socrates Lchen, 
Lehre und Tod, p. 62. 







sidered to be matters of common understanding. It 
was felt to be unsettling. Not understanding the aim 
of the preacher, — to give a rational basis to ethics, — 
his inquiries were considered simply an addition to the 
sum of dissolving and revolutionary influences in the 
State. Free expressions of criticism, directed against 
the invocation of chance in the Athenian democracy, 
in the method of filling offices by lot, were distorted 
into seditious utterances, and harmless quotations from 
the poets were said to have been repeated as slanders 
of the sovereign people. The tendency, moreover, of 
the Socratic political teaching to commit affairs to an 
aristocracy of intellect, was more freely interpreted as 
a support of oligarchical principles, — a thing hateful to 
a democracy that had suffered much at the hands of 
aristocratic revolutionists. A combination of influ- 
ences was at work, in fact, all making against the 
safety of the philosopher, with the result that, in 
399 B.C., he was indicted as an irreligious man, a 
corrupter of youth, and an innovator in worship. 
Anytus, the chief actor, was an active politician : he 
had shown great zeal on the democratic side in the 
time of the oligarchical troubles, and had acquired 
influence with the Athenians. He is brought before 
us in the Meno as showing great hostility to sophis- 
tical teaching, and displaying also much irritation ^ at 
the remarks of Socrates, which seem to imply the 
impossibility of teaching virtue, illustrating this from 
the cases of distinguished Athenians whose sons were 
commonplace persons. And in the closing words of 
the dialogue, Socrates seems to display some appre- 
hension on account of his veiled threats. Meletus 

1 Meno, 94 E. 


was an unsuccessful dramatist. His character comes 
down to us painted by enemies, it is true, but he seems 
to have been a poor creature. It is hinted in the 
A]yology ^ that he was incited to action by resentment 
at the free Socratic criticism of the poets. Of Lycon 
we know nothing but his participation in this bad 

business. ^ . 

As this must be reverted to again later on, it is sutti- 
cient here to say that the case came on for trial before 
a large popular jury ; that, in accordance with custom, 
the accusers made their speeches, then the accused 
replied in a speech, the thought, at anyrate, of which 
has been preserved for us in the Apology, that the 
jury then deliberated, and found Socrates guilty, by a 
narrow majority : the prosecutor then proposed death 
as the penalty ; the accused, by Athenian practice, was 
permitted to propose an alternative. Socrates, after 
protesting that what he really felt himself to deserve 
was public maintenance in the Prytaneum,— a reward 
reserved for Olympic victors and others whom the 
State delighted to honour,— consented, in consultation 
with his friends apparently, to propose a fine of thirty 
minse. Irritated by his independent attitude, many of 
those who at first had voted for his acquittal now gave 
their votes for his death ; and, after again addressing 
himself to the jurors, he was conducted to prison. 
Owing to a peculiar Athenian custom, commemorative 
of a "deliverance wrought by Theseus in legendary 
days from the terrible tribute exacted by the Mino- 
taur of Crete, which custom decreed the sending of 
a periodic sacred embassy to Delos, and, further, that 
during the days occupied in the complete voyage no 

1 Apoh 23 E. 



public execution should take place at Athens, an in- 
terval of thirty days elapsed between the verdict and 
the execution. This interval was filled with inter- 
course with attached friends, discussions on immortality, 
and poetic exercises. Unfortunately we are left in 
some uncertainty as to much that is handed down to 
us as uttered by Socrates during this period ; or rather, 
we are sure that much in the Phcedo could not have 
been uttered by him, for reasonings on immortality are 
there made to hinge on doctrines only developed by 
his disciple Plato. In the Crito we have what nothing 
hinders us from accepting as a true account of the 
refusal of Socrates to avail himself of the help of his 
friends to effect his escape, and his determination to 
abide his fate rather than break the law. In the end 
of the Phcedo we have the story of his death : the 
dismissal of the weeping women and children, the 
interchange of courtesies with his gaoler, the farewell 
to his friends, the last charge to Crito to sacrifice a 
cock to iEsculapius the Healer, in thankfulness for 
deliverance from the sickness of life into the health 
of immortality, and the calm of the last act. 





When Socrates began his work, Greek reflection had 
already a considerable history. It is true that at first, 
and for some time, the eye of philosophy was on the 
world. Thought was directed to the outward. It had 
not become strictly self-conscious. Out of the mani- 
fold appearances presented to sense it was labouring 
to discover reality. Dissatisfied with mythological 
statements referring phenomena to the arbitrary and 
capricious actings of quasi-human deities, early thinkers 
tried to find some rational clue that would guide thought 
out of the maze of appearances in which it was lost, 
and would take it to a point from which could be seen 
the principle by which they could be arranged, the law 
which they obeyed. The greatness of the pioneers of 
thought is not to be estimated by their occasional 
forecasts of explanations, for the establishment of 
which ages of investigation were necessary, but by 
their faith in the rationality of the world. Until 
the belief was overthrown that anything might be 
expected to occur at any time, and it was asserted 
that there was an order of things, an inherent reason, 
no movement of mind was possible. " An early Greek 




philosopher," says Grote, "found nothing around him 
to stimulate or assist the effort" (after a rational 
explanation of things), " and much to obstruct it. He 
found Nature disguised under a diversified and omni- 
present Polytheistic agency. It is perfectly true (as 
Aristotle remarks) that Hesiod and the other theo- 
logical poets, who referred everything to the genera- 
tion and agency of the Gods, thovight only of what 
was plausible to themselves, without inquiring whether 
it would appear equally plausible to their successors. 
. . . The contemporary public . . . know no other way 
of conceiving Nature than under this religious and 
poetical view, as an aggregate of manifestations by 
divine personal agents, upon whose volition — some- 
times signified beforehand by obscure warnings in- 
telligible to the privileged interpreters, but often 
inscrutable — the turn of events depended." ^ " First 
that which is natural" was the order followed by 
the speculations of those who could not rest content 
with tradition. They simply turned aw^ay from ex- 
planations felt to be puerile, and without initiating, 
at first, a polemic of destructive reasoning, ignored 
the polytheistic theology in their search for a rational 
scheme of the natural order. 

By the middle of the seventh century B.C., in the 
prosperous settlements of Asiatic Greece, the new 
spirit of inquiry began to show itself. Wealth had 
brought leisure, contact with other types of civili- 
sation had contributed to the enrichment of science, 
and the need and opportunity for intellectual ex- 
pansion met.^ Thales (b. 640 u.C.) stands at the 

^ Grote, Plato and Companions of Socrates, i. 80, 90. 
"^ Windelband, Hist. Anc. Phil. p. 16 sq. 


head of those who tried to reach by reflection along 
the lines of "Dynamical Physicism," as it has been 
called,— the physical substance which, by transmuta- 
tions and permutations, might be conceived as the 
essence of all things in the world. And the answer 
that he gave was that all things in the world were 
made of water. How he reached his way to this 
conclusion we do not know. We have none of his 
writings; we do not certainly know whether he left 
any. And it is only conjecture that he was led 
by study of the facts of nutrition and reproduction 
in animal life,i or by the ancient cosmogonies,^ or by 
the ever-present importance of the sea in the lives 
of his people,^ to fasten on the element of water as 
the basis of physical being. Professor Mayor's sug- 
gestion is, that it was probably "also from the fact 
that water supplies the most obvious example of the 
transmutation of matter under its three forms — solid, 
fluid, and gaseous." ^ Thales was followed by Anaxi- 
mander (b. 610 B.C.), whose aim also was to reach 
the primary matter of the world, but whose notion 
of which appears at first more metaphysical than 
physical— that is, he sought the origin of all things 
in the indeterminate and infinite. This seems at first 
a deviation from the physical explanations initiated 
by Thales, in so far as no matter to which experience 
introduces us is boundless.^ It is not certain, however, 
that the infinity of which he conceives is more than 
a corporeal richness that meets all the demands upon it 
of life and growth, change and decay. Anaximander 

1 Arist., Mela. i. 3 ; 983^ 20-27. 

3 Windelband, Hist. Anc. Phil. p. 37. 

* Mayor, Anc. Phil. p. 3. 


5 Windelband, p. 39. 






had evidently great talent for natural science. Gom- 
I perz ^ says : " We may fairly look on Anaximander as 
the author of the natural philosophy of Greece, and 
^consequently of the Occident." The point about his 
method is that it scientifically corrects the sense 
judgments by a principle of reason. Anaximenes 
(fl. c. 520 B.C.) kept without ambiguity within the 
range of physical elements in his search for what is 
primary. He assumed this primary substance to be 
air, from which, by processes of condensation and 
rarefaction, all things come. All the Ionian physical 
school were hylozoists, i.e. matter to them had in 
itself life and moving power, and in finding the 
primary matter in air Anaximenes chose the sub- 
stance apparently finest and most clearly possessing 
these qualities. 

After the first three names of Ionic philosophers, 
absolutely exact agreement ceases amongst historians 
of philosophy as to the order in which the names 
should be treated according to the succession in thought. 
The order follow^ed here is that adopted by Burnet in 
his Early Greek Pidlosophy. The reasons, substantial 
and convincing, cannot be detailed. Following upon 
tlie work of the Ionic thinkers mentioned, came some- 
thing of the nature of a religious reaction which is 
connected with the name of Pythagoras (fl. 532 B.C.). 
Zeller says - Pythagoras " desired to efiect, chiefly by 
the aid of religion, a reform of the moral life." The 
connection of this reform with scientific theory, w^hich 
Zeller goes on to speak of, is a much more speculative 
matter. Aristotle scarcely speaks of Pythagoras, but of 

^ Greek Thinkers, i. 40 (trans. Magnus). 
^ Pre-Socratic Phil. i. 358 (Eng. trans.). 

those 1 who are called Pythagoreans, in his references 
to the philosophy of the school. Pythagoras himself 
was a religious reformer, full of moral earnestness, 
who worked, through the machinery of politics and by 
means of the fraternal communities he established, to 
infuse into Greek moral life the strenuousness which 
new influences, such as the great but precarious aflluence 
of Ionia and the speculations of its thinkers were 
making so essential; but what his special opinions 
were is a difficult question to answer. He taught 
transmigration and inculcated abstemiousness, his early 
disciples refraining in general from animal food and 
beans. In the regulations of his associated followers 
there was a mixture of ethical precepts and positive 
rules of a ceremonial character, but the details of 
prescription are not historical but projections into the 
past of a later system. In the religious associations of 
the Greeks there was a general aim of cultivating those 
elements of religion that appealed to the need felt of 
purification and the desire for the care of the Gods.^ 
There were mystic elements in the ceremonies of 
initiation and suggestions of another life. Professor 
Burnet thinks that the scientific theory of Pythagoras 
was dualistic,=^ and that he held that the "air" of 
Anaximenes' theory '* was identical with the space 
which the geometer studied, and thought of things 
as made of space, bounded in various ways."* 

The opposition to the explanations of poetical theo- 
logy implied in the Ionian speculations was emphasized 
by Xenophanes of Colophon (b. 569 B.C.), whose whole 
attitude to the polytheistic creed was polemic and 

^ Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy, p. 98, n. 35. 

2 Ih. pp. 85-87. 3 Ih. p. 107. ^ Ih. p. 108. 





reforming.^ He was not only dissatisfied with the 
popular creed, but revolted by it. He said : 

" One is God, supreme midst Gods and men, not like 
in body to mortal nor yet in mind all eye, all mind all 

ear. ^ 

" Homer and Hesiod attributed to the Gods all things 
which are disreputable and worthy of blame when 
done by men; and they told of them many lawless 
deeds, stealing, adultery, and deception of each 

" But if cattle or lions had hands so as to paint with 
their hands and produce works of art as men do, they 
would paint their Gods and give them bodies in 
form like their own; horses like horses, cattle like 
cattle." * 

His strictly philosophical theories seem to have been 
regarded by himself as of less importance than his 
assault on a false theology, and not to have been con- 
sistently developed. He thinks, in line with his pre- 
decessors in seeking a physical basis of existence, that 
" all thino^s come from earth and return to earth," ^ and 
again that " earth and water are all things that came 
into being and grow." ^ But it is God who " without 
effort sets all things in motion by mind and thought." ^ 
Aristotle apparently ^ does not think that Xenophanes 
had a clear conception of unity, whether of reason or 
matter, for he says : " He did not make anything 
clear, nor did he seem to get at the nature of either of 

^ Windelband, Hist. Anc. Phil. p. 46. 

2 Mullach, Frag. Grcec. Phil. i. 101. 

3 Ih. p. 102 (Fairbanks, pp. 68, 69). 

* Ih. p. 102 (Fairbanks, pp. 66-67). ^ ji^ ^p io2, 8. 

« Ih. pp. 102, 10. 7 /J. pp. 101, 3. 8 j/g^^, I 5 . 93gj^ 22. 

I I 

these things, but looking up into the broad heavens he 
said, ' The unity is God.' " The fact is, there were two 
elements in his thought not unified. His impulse to 
rationalise the current creed leads him in the direction 
of a unity that is pantheistic. Out of this divine unity, 
in itself unchangeable ^ and immoveable,^ everything 
must proceed. There is here a deadlock. The primary 
principle cannot be both unchangeable and changed 
into all the variety of existing things. There remains 
this inner contradiction. It almost seems uncertain 
sometimes whether the unity is finally spiritual or 
material, did close examination not show that, rightly 
understood, all the early philosophies are material. He 
treats as real the world of sense, and develops crude 
theories in natural philosophy; and along with this 
asserts an unchangeable, universal being, the source of 
all life and movement ; and the more he emphasizes this 
divine unchanging unity, the more unreal becomes the 
world of objects and events which he still treats as real. 
With Heraclitus (fl. 504 B.C.) it was the transforma- 
tion of one ethereal substance into many forms that 
produced the world of variety, and he called this cosmic 
principle fire ; but the thing emphasized in his scheme 
was not the substance, but its changes.^ Nothing was 
permanent. All was an eternal flux. It is the con- 
ception of a continual becoming throughout the universe 
that he presents. All things pass into their opposites, 
or are constituted by the union of opposites. The only 
permanency seen amid the flow is the law of change. 
This dominant principle he calls in poetical language 
" War, the Father of all." It is supreme. It is reason. 

^ Diels, Doxog. Grccc. p. 565. 
^ Mayor, Anc. Phil. p. 4. 

Mullach, p. 101, 4. 









It is Deity. Nothing sense can grasp carries us to a 
permanent substance. Nothing strictly is. Things 
only become. The ultimate is a principle of motion 
which he names from its closest analogy in the world 
of sense— fire. '' Fire is the upyj, but not as a stuff 
identical with itself in all its changes, but rather as the 
ever uniform process itself, in which all things rise and 

pass away." ^ He says : 

" This order, the same for all things, no one of Gods 
or men has made ; but it always was, and is, and ever 
shall be, an ever-living fire, kindling according to fixed 
m.easure and extinguished according to fixed measure." 2 
He is quoted by Aristotle as saying that "the first 
principle is soul, as it were a fiery exhalation of which 
all other things consist." The ethereal lire is also 
God. He identifies it with the world-all.^ The later 
interpretation of his teaching is entirely against the 
spiritualising of it into a series of metaphorical state- 
ments, and he is held to be in the strict line of Ionic 
native philosophy.* 

Parmenides (b. c. 515 B.C.) taught that the universe is a 
universe of eternal, homogeneous matter, with no empty 
space at all, subject neither to motion nor change of 
any kind. That which can be thought is Being and 
this is body.^ Nothing else can be thought, and the 
inconceivable does not exist.« There is neither in it 

1 Windelband, Eist Anc. Phil. p. 52. 

2 Frag. 20, Fairbanks' First Phil, of Greece, pp. 28-29 ; ih. p. 57 ; De 

Anima, i. 2 ; 405fi, 25. 

3 Ueberweg Hist. Phil. i. 38, 41. 

4 Windelband, op. cit. p. 53; Burnet, Early Greek Phil. p. 169; 
Diels, Doxog. Grcec. pp. 475, 558 ; Fairbanks, p. 60. 

5 Burnet, pp. 13, 190. 

6 lb, 191 ; AVindelband, p. 61. 

plurality nor qualitative difference. It knows no 
beginning and no end. It is limited, "Complete on 
every side, equally poised from the centre in every 
direction, like the mass of a rounded sphere." i " It is 
the same thing that can be thought, and for the sake of 
which the thought exists ; for you cannot find thought 
without something that is, to which it is betrothed." ^ 
The senses lead us to illusion. We must gain reality 
by thought, and we reach thus the unchangeable 
fulness of the universe with no room for growth or 
decay or change of any kind. He says: "Nor let 
habit force thee to cast a wandering eye upon this 
devious track (of common opinion), or to turn thither 
thy resounding ear or thy tongue; but do thou judge 
the subtle refutation of their discourse uttered by 
me." 3 

A second portion of the poem in which Parmenides 
conveys his philosophy contains theories variously 
interpreted as a portion of his own philosophic 
creed held inconsistently with the foregoing reasoned 
view,* or given out as a concession to popular pre- 
judice and uninstructed opinion,^ or as a statement 
of Pythagorean principle held forth as a negative 

It is quite clear that Parmenides puts forth the 
views of the second portion of his poem as having no 
truth at all.^ He is showing his learner what are the 
" opinions of mortals," the " arrangement as it seems to 
man," "men's opinions," who "go astray from the 

1 11. 102-104 (trans. Burnet, p. 187). ^ 7;^. y. 94 f., pp. 186, 187. 

» Jb. V. 55 f., p. 185. * Windelband, p. 63. 

5 Mayor, Anc. Phil. p. 16. ^ Burnet, p. 196 et seq. 
■^ lb. p. 195. 





I *' 

truth." They stcand in no relation save of opposition 
to his clearly enunciated theory.^ 

Empedocles (b. c. 500 B.C.) was a reconciler. To obtain 
from the eternally self-identical Being of Parmenides, 
excluding motion and change of every kind, the 
appearances of the world of sense, as to which the help 
of the witness of sense must be accepted, he postulated 
four everlasting elements, water, air, fire, and earth, 
three of which appear in the systems of previous 
thinkers. Upon these four elements, existing in a 
mixed mass, two other substances,^ poetically named 
Hatred and Love, impinge by necessity as moving 
powers, and through the continuous separating and 
combining processes thus set up all existences and 
experiences are accounted for. The predominance of 
the severing or uniting power is decided by the stage 
attained in the slowly moving cycles of the world. 

When Love has gained complete sway, all things rest 
in the perfect sphere only to be dissolved again by 
strife and to begin the process of formation and decay 
anew.^ The human soul is a mixture of both powers, 
and, in obedience to the principle that only like things 
can know each other, can know those things the ele- 
ments of which it possesses in itself.'^ All living things 
are composed of elements united by Love and dissolved 
by Hate. Plants, as to which he afiirms sex and sensa- 
tion, are combinations of earth and water and fire. The 
animals that were originated when Strife ruled were 
originated in separate parts, — then, as organised, but 

1 Cf. Gomperz, pp. 180 f., for opposite view. 

2 Fra{f. 11. 79, 80, 87, quoted by Burnet, 246, to show that corporeal 
substances are meant. 

3 Mayor, p. 17, Frarj. H. 65 sq. * lb. 17. 

often monstrous wholes. Some, however, were adapted 
for survival. Now, the principle of Unity is decaying 
and Separation increasing in power. The creatures 
originated early in this period were without sex or 
distinctness of species, but these are now clearly 
marked. Scientific theories of grow^th and nutrition — 
respiration, hearing, vision, perception generally, sleep 
and death — were advanced. In perception, effluences 
from the objects without entered the organs of sense 
through the pores. Perception was not distinguished 
from thought, and was supposed to reside in the blood. 
All things had a share in thought. Our knowledge 
was a matter decided by the constitution of the 
elements of our body.^ 

Theologically, Empedocles seems to have combined 
as many difiering beliefs as in physics. He speaks 
of Gods " composed of elements " as men are, and 
subject like them^ after a longer time, to death. He 
speaks of the divinity of the orb of matter, and of the 
elements which compose it ; and of daemons doomed to 
inhabit mortal bodies for ages as an atonement for sin. 
And he asserts that there is a deity who is more than 
these, " sacred and ineffable mind." ^ What was the 
ethical value of his doctrine of transmigration is hard 
to say. He was himself, he said, one of the daemons 
atoning by an incarnation for former offences. But if 
a moral explanation is sought of all the processes of 
metempsychosis, we can only grasp it by getting into 
the range of ideas where kinship to animals ^ and the 

^ Cf. Burnet, pp. 256-268, for exposition. 

2 Hist. Phil. Gh-cec. , Ritter et Preller, 180 (1. 344 f. ). Fairbanks, p. 200. 

3 Burnet, pp. 100 f. and 270 (and Frag. v. 430 f.); Grote, Plato, i. 
pp. 9, 48. 



confusion of soul and sense seem natural. Empedocles 
had been by his own assertion a bush and a bird and a 
fish. It seems eviscerating some statements as to 
transmigration ^ of meaning to say that all Empedocles' 
" needs would be amply provided for by the reappear- 
ance of the same corporeal elements in different com- 
binations." What he needs is that metempsychosis 
should have a moral interpretation. There is something 
that offends and suff*ers, and in the consciousness of 
this endures thorough changes. It is quite immaterial 
whether this be held with a conception of the distinct- 
ness of soul and body or not. There is an identity that 
abides ; and if all things participate in thought, to be a 
bush and a bird is no check to its persistence. 

Anaxagoras (b. c. 500 B.C.) is the writer who was 
approached by Socrates with such eager expectation, 
only to be left in disappointment because of the 
inconsistent application of the idea of Mind in his 
philosophy. His system was a mediating one. 

The mass of matter can neither know increment nor 
loss. It remains unchangeable.^ " Nothing comes into 
being nor yet does anything perish, but there is a 
mixt^'ure and separation of things that are." ^ He does 
not treat motion as impossible and change as decep- 
tive ; but sets himself to account for these by combina- 
tion 'and division. "Wherefore they say that every- 
thing was mixed in everything, because they saw 
everything arising out of everything." ' What Empe- 
docles had treated as elements— earth, water, air, and 
fire— were to Anaxagoras compounds. The substances 

^ Frag. 1. 369 et seq., Hitter et Preller, 181. 

2 Frag. 14 (Fairbanks), p. 239. ' Frag. 17. 

^Arist., Phtjs. i. 4; 187, 1, 26. 



( i 



that make up the unchangeable quantity of being are 
composed of seeds which contain in themselves all the 
original opposite qualities ; they are rare, dense, warm, 
cold, light, dark, dry, moist in various proportions ; and 
according to the predominant quality is the character 
of the thing. Our senses give us a partial knowledge 
of things, but cannot detect the qualities opposite to 
the apparent nature, when these qualities are present 
only in minute proportions. These qualities, Burnet 
shows, are called " things," ^ and are present in every- 
thing small and gTeat. The seeds of all the matter in 
the world are composed of the same elements — the 
original opposites of the Nature philosophers— but in 
different proportions. And from the proportion comes 
the quality that classifies substances. Hence, so under- 
stood, all the particles of a particular substance are 
homogeneous with the whole mass. And, in the same 
way, all the particles of the different substances differ 
from each other only in the proportions of their com- 
binations and not in the ultimate constituents. 

The beginning of all motion, the principle of order 
and life, is Nous. We can render this Mind, but we 
have not for all that reached a truly spiritual concep- 
tion. It is something unmixed, extended, tenuous, 
the cause of motion and life and all-knowing.^ It is 
the rational order of things, without being pure intelli- 
gence. When life is present there it is, but it cannot 
manifest itself in all things alike because of the 
imperfection of the corporeal instrument.^ 

The work of Pythagoras as the agent of a religious 
reaction accompanied by moral reform is separable 

1 Farhj Greek Phil. pp. 287, 288. ^ Frag. 6, 7. 

3 Arist., Part. Anim. iv. 10 ; 687a, 7 (Ritter et Preller, 1606). 



from the philosophic developments, under the name of 
Pythagoreanism. An activity that was monastic and 
political is the prominent thing in the one case ; in the 
other, a speculative system so extraordinary that parts 
of it seem intractable to a rational interpretation. The 
secret Pythagoreanism has to yield, then, is that the 
world is made of numbers. These numbers wei^ not, 
however, abstractions. No more than other thinkers 
before the Sophists had the Pythagoreans gained the 
immaterial in thought. They did not mean to posit an 
abstraction as the foundation of all things. They meant 
that numbers were in their scheme of thought what to 
the earlier philosophers, seeking for the primary matter, 
water, air, or fire, was,— the physical basis of things. Re- 
ferring to their arithmetical and mathematical studies, 
Aristotle says : " And being brought up in them they 
thought that the first principles of these were the first 
principles of all things.^ . . . And, further, discerning 
in numbers the conditions and reasons of harmonies 
also; since, moreover, other things seemed to be like 
numbers in their entire nature, and numbers were the 
first of every nature, they assumed that the elements of 
numbers were the elements of all things, and that the 
whole heavens were harmony and number." - These 
numbers were not separated from sensible things: 
" The Pythagoreans say that there is but one Number, 
the mathematical ; but things of sense are not separated 
from this, for they are composed of it." ^ Their num- 
bers were not conceived of as severed from things that 
can be seen and touched. They are not to be con- 

1 Meta. i. 5 ; 9856, 23. Fairbanks, p. 136. 
2i&. i. 5 ; 9856, 31. Fairbanks, p. 137. 
3i&. xii. 6 ; 10806, 16. Fairbanks, p. 142. 



<3» 87 



founded with a law of development or an inner har- 
mony of things. Yet there was a way of speaking 
about them which seemed to separate them from 
substances : " The Pythagoreans, however, while they 
in similar manner assume two first principles, add this 
which is peculiar to themselves: that they do not 
think that the Finite and the Infinite and the One are 
certain other things by nature, such as fire or earth or 
any other such thing, but the Infinite itself and Unity 
itself are the essence of the things of which they are 
predicated, and so they make Number the essence of all 
things." 1 The Monad, however, which begets Limit, 
shown in the odd numbers, and by union of which with 
the even numbers flowing from the Dyad each indi- 
vidual thing arises, is spatial limit, and that with which 
it unites is the Unlimited.^ The identification of the 
Unlimited with air and the void, and of Limit with 
border and measure of concrete realities, completed the 
physical character of the Pythagorean theory. " And 
the Pythagoreans say that there is a void, and that it 
enters into the heaven itself from the infinite air, as 
though it— the heaven— were breathing ; and this void 
defines the nature of things, inasmuch as it is a certain 
separation and definition of things that lie together; 
and this is true first in the case of numbers, for the 
void defines the nature of these." ^ 

In the ordinary expositions of the Pythagorean 
doctrine of numbers the theory appears largely as 
an unexplained eccentricity of the human mind, or its 
historical character is departed from, and it is repre- 
sented as the statement of a law of proportion and 

1 Arist, 3feta. i. 5 ; 987a, 9. 2 Mayor, p. 11 ; Burnet, p. 310. 

8 Avist., PJiys. iv. 6 ; 2136, 22 (Ritter et Preller, 75a). Fairbanks, p. 134. 




harmony in nature. Professor Burnet's exposition, 
which holds the spatial character of the numbers, 
is followed here. They are really parts of the 
Unlimited, i.e. of Space (which is not mere emptiness, 
but a material conception), separated off by union with 
the principle of Limit. One thus is equal to a point, 
two means a line, three a plane, and so with higher 
numbers and many planed figures. "The theory 
that things are numbers then comes simply to this, 
that things are built up of geometrical figures, that 
they are portions of space limited in a variety of ways." 
The point of the Pythagoreans is not a mathematical 
point without magnitude, but the unit of space, the 
line has breadth and the plane depth.^ It is not an 
abstract and ideal system, but something dealing with 
quantities and shapes of things.- 

There were multitudes of other applications of the 
doctrine of a fantastic and capricious nature ; not only 
concrete objects, but events of life and moral qualities 
were capable of numerical definition. Justice was the 
first square, four ; marriage, five ; opportunity, seven. 
One was the central fire with ten spheres dancing round 
it, on the outside that of the fixed stars, then within 
this the five planets, then sun, moon, earth, and counter 
earth — the last between the earth and the central fire, 
shutting oflf its direct light from us, and only allowing 
the reflection of it by the sun to reach us.^ This con- 
ception of the counter earth, apparently for the purpose 
of securing numerical symmetry in the cosmology, 
appears an extraordinary instance of intellectual levity 
in the scheme, and raises questions as to the worth of 




1 Burnet, pp. 312-314 ; cf. note, p. 315. 

2 Cf. Benn, Gfc. Phil. i. 35. 

3 Mayor, p. 11. 

effort to grasp theories so framed. " And they assume 
yet another earth opposite this, which they call the 
counter earth, not seeking reasons and causes for 
phenomena, hut stretching 'phenomena to meet certain 
assumptions and opinions of theirs and attempting to 
arrange them in a system." ^ This fitting of facts into 
the mould of system is also alluded to in the words : 
" And where there was a slight misfit, some gentle 
pressure would be applied for the sake of rendering 
their theory a homogeneous whole " 2 (Ht. " and if there 
was any falling short anywhere they were most eager 
that the whole system should be connected with these 
(exceptional facts))." 

On the other hand, the Pythagorean astronomy has 
been justly described as " one of the most original and 
brilliant creations of the Greek intellect." ^ Its later 
developments were fruitful. Ecphantus taught the 
rotation of the earth on its own axis. The combination 
of the movements of the planets Mercury and Venus 
with the Sun's first emero^ed. Guesses were made at 
the relative proportions of sun and earth ; and there was 
approximation, to be consummated later, to the heliocen- 
tric astronomy. Mayor says, speaking of the Pythago- 
rean contraries : " These mystical extravagances appear 
to have been the necessary introduction to the sciences 
of Arithmetic and Geometry, just as Astrology and 
Alchemy were the introduction to Astronomy and 
Chemistry. Indeed, we find that men like Copernicus 
and Kepler were to some extent influenced and guided 
in their investigations by the ideas of Pythagoras." * 

1 Arist., Meta. ii. 13 ; 293a, 19. 

2 lb. i. 5 ; 986a, 6 (Gomperz' rendering). 

^Gomperz, p. 111. * Mayor, ffist. Anc. Phil. p. 12. 






Zeno of Elea (b. c. 490 B.C.) set himself to refute argu- 
ments against the conclusions of Parmenides, by reason- 
ings framed to show the absurdities logically deducible 
less from current beliefs than from Pythagorean theo- 
ries.i The admission of multiplicity of phenomena 
issued in contradictions. From the infinite divisibility 
of space and time he argued the impossibility of 
motion. Benn summarises his reasonings thus: "A 
whole composed of parts and divisible ad infinitum 
must be either infinitely great or infinitely little; 
infinitely great if its parts have magnitude, infinitely 
little if they have not. A moving body can never 
come to the end of a given line, for it must traverse 
half the line, then half the remainder, and so on for 
ever." 2 These reasonings were not mere captious 
argumentation, but the statement of real difficulties 
involved in the acceptance of the unitary theory of 
space and time. They involve questions at the basis 
of metaphysics, only successfully to be approached by 
later mathematical methods.^ 

Melissus of Samos (fl. UO B.C.) laboured, not by 
showing the contradictions to which an opposite 
assumption led, but directly^ to show the truth of 
the doctrine of space- filling being. Space was infinite, 
and was wholly occupied by reality, which had always 
existed and would continue to exist without change. 
When he has asserted all this about the Eleatic Unity, 
it is held by some interpreters that he still teaches 
inconsistently the incorporeality of being.^ It seems 
more likely, on the other hand, that the true view is 
that the words relied on to establish this constitute 


1 Burnet, p. 327 f. 
3 Windelbaml, p. 67. 

- Benn, The Greek Philosophers, p. i, 20. 
* lb. p. 59. ^ Gomperz, p. 190. 

part of a conditional argument, and are not to be 
taken as stating immateriality.^ 

Leucippus was the originator of the atomic theory, 
better known in the more fully developed form given 
to it by Democritus. It is not known when he was born 
or when he died, or whether he wrote anything or not. 
He is taken to be somewhat earlier - than Democritus 
(b. 460 B.C.) " He assumed innumerable and ever- 
moving elements, namely, the atoms. And he made 
their forms infinite in number, since there was no 
reason why they should be of one kind rather than 
another, and because he saw that there was unceasing 
becoming and change in things. He held, further, that 
what is " (primary matter) " is no more real than what 
is not " (empty space), " and that both are alike causes 
of the things that come into being ; for he laid down 
that the substance of the atoms w^as compact and full, 
and he called them what is, while they moved in the 
void which he called what is not, but affirmed to be 
just as real as what isJ' ^ The theory was a great 
efibrt to do justice to the testimony of the senses 
and to philosophic thought. Parmenides would have 
nothing but the one immoveable reality, the homo- 
geneous sphere. Unfilled space was unreal to him, 
but he had not dealt with the problem of the " beyond." 
Empty space was non-being. This doctrine had led to 
pluralism to make motion and change possible. The 
elements of Empedocles, the homogeneous fragments 
of Anaxagoras, the spatial units of the Pythagoreans, 
were all put forward in the same interest. But the 

1 Burnet, pp. 344, 345. ^ Gomperz, i. 317. 

^Theophr., Physic. Opin. in Doxog. Grcec. 483, 16 (trans. Burnet), p. 






criticism of Zeno had found joints in the armour of 
such reasonings. Starting from infinite divisibility,^ 
he had shown the contradictions in which Pytha- 
goreanism was involved. Then came Melissus, who 
saw the necessity of spatial infinitude for the material 
One of Parmenides, if unity was to be preserved. Limi- 
tation involved multiplicity. The theory of Leucippus 
denied infinite divisibility, assumed in Zeno's reason- 
ings, and postulated atoms each as ultimately un- 
changeable as the One of Parmenides. And going 
back to his denial of empty space, Leucippus affirmed 
its existence. Without it motion was impossible. But 
sense testified to things coming into being, to their 
passing away, and to their multiplicity. The " reality " 
of the void that made change possible was difierent to 
the " reality " of the material One, but it existed. A 
new conception was being grasped by thought. Space 
not material in character, not body-filled, was being 
dealt with. The Atoms were " what is," and the void 
in which they moved was " what is not," each asser- 
tion understood in the sense conditioned by previous 
thought. Incorporeal reality was asserted as strongly 
as corporeal.2 The atoms, again, were incapable of 
division, as there were in them no interstices enclosing 
void; they were qualitatively alike, but dift*ered in 
form, position, and arrangement.^ By the attraction 
of similar things for each other, bodies gather in the 
void, and " innumerable worlds " are formed from the 
collision and adhesion to each other of like atoms.* 

1 Burnet, p. 355. ' Ritter et Preller, 194 ; Burnet, 357. 

^Theophr., Physic. Opin. Fr. 8 (trans. Burnet, p. 353); Arist, 
Meta. i. 4 ; 985&, 4. 

4 Hippol., Ref. i. 12. 2 ; Diels, Doxog. Orcec. p. 564 ; Burnet, 358. 

Diogenes of Apollonia was an eclectic of encyclopaedic 
knowledge, who endeavoured to unite Anaxagoras' 
principle of Mind with the primary Air of Anaxi- 
menes. Air possessed intelligence,^ it was the soul 
* and mind of animals and men.^ Rarefied and become 

fiery, it produced the sun.^ And again he speaks of 
sun and heavenly bodies as pumice-like, with pores 
that the fire flows through. 

Archelaus was the successor of Anaxagoras in the 
school of Lampsacus. Air with him represented the 
original mixture of the " seeds " of Anaxagoras. It 
was also the seat of mind. But mind was not the 
world-maker, though air and mind were God.* He was 
said to be the teacher of Socrates. 

There was neither originality nor consistency in 
these writers. With all their knowledge and scientific 
interest, philosophically speaking, they were simply en- 
gaged in compounding earlier ideas. There was much 
progress in knowledge without movement in thought. 
The conclusion of the period, in which the explanation 
of things was sought in direct examination of and 
speculation upon a world naively apprehended, was 
reached. The question of knowledge was to be raised. 
The interest was moving from the world to man. 

The dividing line between Leucippus and Democritus, 
whom most historians treat together,^ Burnet thinks 
must be drawn where the new questions as to our 
power of knowing emerge.^ Democritus is on the 

1 Frag. 4, Mullach, i. 254. ^ ;Frag. 5, ih. 254. 

3 Ritter et Preller, 215 ; Plut., Strom. 12 ; Burnet, 363. 
•* Burnet, 361 ; Act. i. 7. 14 ; Diels, p. 302. 
5 Zeller, Frc-Soc. Phil. ii. 207 (Eng. trans.). 
^ Burnet, Inidn. p. In. 1, p. 358. 






hither side of this line, Leucippus on the farther. 
"The first in time of the subjective philosophers 
is Democritus. . . . The philosophy of Democritus 
marks an advance on that of Protagoras." ^ Democritus 
(b. 460 B.C.) was a contemporary of Socratss, and in his 
time questions of the knowledge of reality had arisen. 
All knowledge was relative to the individual, according 
to the sensualistic and sceptical formula of Protagoras : 
"Man is the measure of all things." The possibility 
of science was denied. And it is in the atmosphere 
of these theories and in relation to them that the 
doctrines of Democritus are put forth. The questions 
of epistemology once effectively raised, philosophy 
takes a new form.- Democritus deals with them in 
the interest of Atomism. Socrates, recognising the 
importance of this sceptical movement as directed 
by the Sophists, applied himself to the establish- 
ment of a doctrine of knowledge through conceptions, 
that he might find a sure and certain base for morality. 
The transition time, from the predominatingly physi- 
cal interest of early philosophy to the anthropological 
period that began with Socrates, was filled by the 
work of the Sophists. A controversy not lacking in 
acerbity has raged round the philosophic position of 
these men and their ethical influence. The repre- 
sentations of them which have been decisive in fixing 
modern views are principally those of enemies, Aris- 
tophanes, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle. They are mainly 
unfavourable and often contemptuous. And the older 
historians of philosophy have reproduced this unf avour- 

^ Brocliard in Archivfiir Gcschichte der Phil. ii. pp. 374, 377, referred 
to in Burnet, p. 1 n. 1. 
2 Burnet, p. 369. 


able view. The Sophists were charlatans, corrupters 
of morals, empty phrasemakers. But for a long time 
this view, in its unqualified form at any rate, has been 
obsolete. The strongest defence of the Sophists, no 
doubt, was put forward fifty years ago, in Grote's 
seventh volume ; but the force of the reaction from 
the view he was opposing carried him into partiality. 
As the dust of controversy has settled down, their 
true position has come to be seen. They were men 
of a transition period. Bearing a name originally 
meaning sage or man of capacity, but by this time 
carrying the sense of professional teacher, they devoted 
themselves to the training of young men for public 
life, specially in the art of rhetoric, which in the 
increasingly democratic conditions of Athenian politics 
had become a highly valued attainment. This training 
rested with some on philosophic principles, but in the 
case of the more prominent names tlie principles were 
of such a type as to associate the name of Sophist 
with philosophic scepticism and practical deductions 
tending ^o moral laxity. They were not a philosophic 
school, there was no standard of Sophist orthodoxy; 
but, in the pursuit of practical ends, theories which 
were in the air came to be adopted, in varying forms 
and with difierent degrees of consistency, which have 
a sufficient connection to bear treatment together.^ It 
is less distant from the truth to recognise in them a 
certain community of type than to emphasize their 

It is not, moreover, with their general services to 
Greek culture so much that we are concerned, as with 
the attitude of a few prominent men to scientific and 

1 Cf. Ritchie, Plato, p. 65. 








philosophic questions. And here their importance is 
in the expression of the negative moment in Greek 
thought at the point of its exhaustion on the path of 
nature philosophy, and before a new basis of certitude 
was found. This may seem at first not to differ 
from the traditional opinion, or only in an unimportant 
modification; but even the warmest apologist of the 
Sophists must admit that deservedly or not they are 
in men's minds the exponents of the average man's 
conclusions from his knowledge of the contradictory 
views of philosophers, and the mouthpiece of a time 
of weakened conviction. It is undeniable that Prota- 
goras and Gorgias are rightly associated with views 
that on any interpretation undermine science. The 
question of their personal character and aims is an 
interesting one, and has long been decided in their 
favour ; ^ but is not vital for philosophy. The point is, 
was their philosophic position analogous to the lack of 
moral conviction, the unrest and upheaval of the time, 
in its expression of acquiescence in failure to reach 
reality ? Henry viii. was a strong man, and in many 
respects a great monarch ; but the facts are strained 
if we are asked to believe that he was also a person of 
ascetic spirit and admirable in his family relationships. 
The Sophists were respectable men and able teachers ; 
but a strain is put upon the facts if it is denied that 
their philosophic influence was negative and dissolving. 
It was from the breakdown of effort to ascertain the 
truth of things along the line of physical speculations 
that " Sophistic," in so far as philosophy entered into 
it, took its departure. Various thinkers had said that 
truth was not given in uncorrected sense-impression; 

^ Cf. the services of Protagoras, Gorgias, Prodicus to their states. 



and practical confirmation of this was found in the 
conflicting answers given as to the nature of the real 
worlds. The different principles of the Nature-philo- 
sophers were no satisfying explanations, but had become 
cries of controversy. If earnest students reached such 
opposed conclusions, the explanation must be in defec- 
tive tools of investigation ; we could not reach objective 

Protagoras (c. 491-c. 422) is the author of the formula, 
" Man is the measure of all things ; of the existence 
of things that are, and of the non-existence of things 
that are not " ; ^ and, farther, " things are to you such as 
they appear to you, and to me such as they appear to 
me." All knowledge was reduced to sense perception ; 
and while the formula is not void of ambiguity, it 
is the interpretation that treats this perception as 
individual that fits in best with all the expressions 
used. It is unlikely, as Jowett ^ and Campbell point 
out, that the idea of contrasting the " universal with 
the particular subject"^ could at this point be in 
the mind of Protagoras. It was rather the idea of 
bringing into recognition the part the human mind 
played in knowledge. It is with him the all-important 
factor. Knowledge on the strictest interpretation of 
the formula is reduced to pure subjectivity. And even 
with the modification which M. Brochard suggests, 
we have the intermittent reality of an object which 
emerges into being with and during sensation.* In 
neither case is there the foundation of science. 

Even less equivocally Gorgias (fl. 427) stated his 

1 Thecetetus, 152 A. 2 ^^ i^q^ 

^ Thecctetus (Campbell), Appendix C, p. 257. 

** Archiv fur d. Gesch. der Philosophic, ii. pp. 372, 375. 






thoroughgoing scepticism. For him nothing existed ; 
and i^ anything did exist it would be unknowable, 
and if known its knowledge would be incommunicable. 
Hippias of Elis and Prodicus of Ceos, both younger 
than Protagoras, were distinguished, the first for his 
application to law of the principle that contradictions 
and changes destroyed its validity, and hi^s assertion 
that it is tyrannical in its resistance to Nature; the 
second, for studies of words. Other and less able men 
pushed the principles of subjective relativism, in its 
application to morals, to the point of making might 
into right, or degenerated into mere exhibitors of 
dialectical battles on a level with professional boxing. 

The service the Sophists could do to philosophy was 
done when they, by their assertion of principles which 
compelled the re-examination of what had been naively 
assumed, brought into view the problem of the basis 
of certitude. They made the unconscious dogmatism 
of the earliest period for ever impossible. No doubt 
that unconsciousness had been occasionally broken 
by glimpses of the uncertainty of sense-knowledge. 
And from the time of Parmenides^ and Heraclitus 
especially, there had risen up a sense of an opposition 
between reflective thought and sensuous perception 
which was destined to come to an open issue. Yet it 
was not the contribution of mind to the complex whole 
of knowledge with which these and later thinkers were 
concerned, but simply review of the data of sense with 
its necessary correction of these.^ The basis of know- 
ledge was still ultimately sense, and it was left after 
reflection pervious to attack as before. 

1 Hist, de la Phil., Janet et Seailles, p. 670. 

2 lb. p. 671. 




The sense of this, and the idea that confirmation was 
given to distrust in sense by the multiplicity and con- 
tradictory character of the answers of the Nature- 
philosophers to the question, " What is Reality ? " 
constituted the strength of the Sophist position ; and 
the force with which they asserted the subjective side 
of things, interpreted individually, was their service 
and their partial justification. 

Practically, of course, they claim as teachers to have 
met a " felt want " ; they supplied an article for which 
there was a demand. Considerations of philosophic 
devotion to truth had nothing to do with the case. 
Their teaching was regulated by public requirements, 
as the work of a coach by the standard of the exami- 
nations for which he prepares men. 

Their disservice (and this is clearest in the later 
members of the order) was that they took themselves, 
and were often taken by others, as philosophers. 
Often they were men engaged in turning the per- 
plexities of philosophy and the exigencies of a time 
of public unrest to their personal advantage. If the 
genuine philosopher concludes that there is no real 
knowledge, he will not content himself with falling 
back upon common convictions. If there is nothing to 
say, the genuine sceptic will say nothing. But from 
the supposed illusory character of sense-knowledge 
the Sophists went on to conclude, by their more 
. degenerate representatives, the shifting character of 
ethics. And the training given to their pupils came 
to be supported, on the supposition that if all opinions 
were equally false, all were equally true, and justifica- 
tion could be found for their support. In Athens, careers 
lay open to talents. A man's firmest conviction might 




be his own capacity to guide the State and also to 
serve his own ends. " Sophistic " supplied him with the 
means to impress the multitude. There were plenty of 
clever men in Athens ready to conclude, from the con- 
tradictions of philosophers, that there was nothing in 
philosophy, and to draw the further inference that 
ethical convictions rested on no certain basis ; just as 
there are plenty of men to-day to argue, from the 
differences of Biblical critics, that the question of reli- 
gion " lacks actuality." The reproach of " Sophistic " 
is that it gave quasi -philosophic form to these conclu- 
sions, and supplied a certain class of men with reasons 
for believing what they wanted to believe. 

It is from Socrates that the movement takes its 
origin by which knowledge is to be newly based. He 
follows the Sophists in turning from the old path of 
philosophy to the study of the subjective conditions of 
knowledge ; but it is with a different conviction as to 
the possibility of its attainment, and in a new spirit of 
moral earnestness. It is to the consideration of his 
pursuit and the measure of its success that we must 
now turn. 






The Prosaic and Ideal Interpretations 

The Criteria 

The question of authorities for the teaching of Socrates 
meets us at the outset of any attempt to deal with the 
subject. To two writers mainly, Plato and Xenophon, 
we are indebted for our knowledge ; their testimonies 
being supplemented or corrected by what comes to 
us from Aristotle and others. Broadly speaking, out- 
side the three named, allusions to Socrates are scanty, 
or of poor authority. The testimonies of Xenophon 
and Plato are very full, but differ much from each 
other. The references of Aristotle are brief, but of 
great value. 

What, then, was the historic connection of our two 
chief witnesses with their subject ? Xenophon is sup- 
posed to have become a follower of Socrates at an 
early age. The story of his life being saved by the 
philosopher in the retreat from Delium (424 B.C.) is not 
now accepted on account of its chronological incon- 
sistency with the impression received from the Ana- 
hctsis as to the author's age.^ Another story, which 

^ Dakyns, The Works of Xenophon, vol. i. Note iii. 




relates his first contact with Socrates, tells how the 
philosopher met the youth in a narrow lane, and, 
barring the path with his stick, asked him where 
this and that kind of thing could be purchased. The 
lad answered him modestly, and w^as then asked 
" where men were made good and virtuous." And on 
his answering that he did not know, Socrates said, 
" Follow me, then, and learn." ^ This was the begin- 
ning of his discipleship.^ From the same source we 
learn that he kept records of the informal discourse of 
his master. Out of these doubtless the Memorabilia 
grew. The number and variety of the incidents and 
teachings recorded imply a lengthy and close inter- 
course between the philosopher and his pupil. They 
include correction of personal faults in disciples, dis- 
courses on filial and fraternal duty, on public life and 
military command, on finance and statesmanship, and 
many other practical matters interesting to a practical 
mind. To the truth of some of the stories he relates, 
he testifies of his own knowledge. Many times he 
says he himself heard such and such teachings. As to 
counsel given to himself, for example, he relates ^ that, 
w^hen invited by Proxenus to join the expedition of 
Cyrus, who had been the friend of the Lacedaemonians 
in the w^ar, he had consulted Socrates as to his accept- 
ance or refusal of the invitation, and had received the 
counsel to consult the Delphian oracle ; but having, 
like many another, first decided on his course, he 
inquired of the oracle to which of the Gods he ought 
to pray in order to successfully accomplish his journey. 
After he had received the response, he returned and 
told Socrates the result of his visit, and was censured 

- Circa (?) 415 B.C. ^ Aiuib. in. i. 4-7. 




^ Diog. Laert. ii. 48. 

by him for not inquiring first of all whether the 
journey was one to be undertaken or not. After this 
determination his whole life-course was altered. His 
exile resulted from his connection with the enemy of 
his country. It is uncertain whether he ever returned 
to Athens. Socrates was sentenced to death in 399 
B.C., and if Xenophon did return before then it can 
only have been for a brief period. But he had enjoyed 
years of close intercourse with the philosopher, and it 
was a labour of love to write a vindication of the faith 
and morality of that misjudged heretic. 

Plato's connection with Socrates was perhaps scarcely 
so lengthened. It appears to have begun about 410 
B.C. It is not marked by any very special incidents. 
But the enthusiasm of discipleship has glorified Socrates 
by making him the spokesman of the Platonic Philo- 
sophy, and by preserving pictures beyond price of the 
living as of the martyred teacher. In the closing 
years of the Peloponnesian War, and thence right on 
to the fatal year 399 B.C., Plato was in the closest 
intimacy with his master. 

So far as opportunity is concerned, both men, Plato 
and Xenophon, were most favourably situated. Long 
and close connection with a teacher whose pupils were 
in each case personal friends, equalises circumstance, 
and leaves the accounting for differences in the pre- 
sentation of the Socratic philosophy to the personal 
equation. Here there is the greatest possible differ- 
ence. Xenophon, it has usually been held, was an 
essentially simple nature, a man neither inclined 
toward speculative thought nor fitted for it, but one 
who conceived philosophy as largely a process of moral 
training. .He was a cavalry officer and a country 




gentleman, and at the same time a literary man, 
interested in history, politics, war, and sport; fully 
alive to the practical side of things, but apprehending 
less clearly the relation of all this to ideal principle. 
He disliked Athenian democracy and admired Spartan 
institutions ; and soon after his return from the East 
ceased to be an Athenian citizen, and, making a virtue 
of his exile, became as much of a Spartan as he could. 

His bent was practical. Philosophic discussion was 
not for the purpose of gaining intellectual satisfaction 
in the possession of a consistent scheme of things ; 
it was a true training as opposed to the culture of 
the Sophists; an implanting of pious convictions 
and virtuous habits. The metaphysical basis of his 
master's theories could not be expected to attract 
such a mind. What he would give us, according to 
this view, we should expect to be a popular pre- 
sentation of the easier and more external aspects of 
the Socratic teaching. His Socrates would be the 
moral censor of his time and the preacher of practical 
virtue, but hardly the leader of a philosophic revolution. 

The case with Plato is altogether different. It is 
manifest that his presentation of Socrates is largely 
ideal. He chooses to put his own boldest speculations 
into the mouth of the teacher whose own thoughts, 
original and powerful as they were, clothed themselves 
in plain and homespun dress, and took a more modest 
range. The truth Plato is concerned about is ideal 
truth, not historical and chronological accuracy. It is 
his way of honouring the memory of his great master, 
to represent him setting forth cosmical and epistemo- 
logical theories foreign to his actual thought. His own 
mind is the antithesis of Xenophon's. He breathes 





freely in the upper air of abstractions. His view of 
anything may be unusual, extraordinary, wrong; it is 
never likely to be commonplace. Hence the Socrates 
we expect to find in his pages, and do find, is an 
enlarged, idealised figure, in which it is not easy 
sometimes to discern the homely lineaments of the 

Now, when it was held that the one drawback to 
Xenophon's testimony was, to put it bluntly, his some- 
what prosaic mind, incapacitating him from seeing the 
deepest things in his subject, and that, so far as he saw, 
his testimony could be absolutely accepted, which was, 
till recently, the orthodox view, the problem was 
simpler. Plato could enter into the full mind of his 
master, and, while persuading himself that his pre- 
sentation was but the full development of what was 
germinally present in the Socratic teaching, did, it was 
certain, sometimes expand and idealise that teaching 
beyond recognition. What was said, then, was this, 
" We must go to Xenophon for the plain facts of the case : 
and if he only gives a limited and prosaic view, we 
can fill this out by the generous Platonic interpretation 
in so far as the two views are not flatly in contradic- 
tion." Xenophon is thus the check on Plato, who is 
really the deeper and truer interpreter so far as he 
can be accepted, which is, when held to fact by the 
plodding record of the humbler writer. 

But it becomes clear to any patient reading that the 
matter is less simple. Xenophon is no more a mere 
recorder or annalist than Plato. In his own way he 
writes history " with a thesis." If he has not a special 
philosophy to teach in the same full sense, he writes, 
in any case, in a particular apologetic interest. He is 





concerned to minimise the revolutionary aspects of the 
thought of Socrates. He wants to present a picture of 
the blameless teacher of virtue, the pious worshipper of 
the Gods ; and he certainly succeeds in his aim. But 
we cannot but feel that it is at the expense of com- 
pleteness. If Xenophon relates of his master nothing 
but what is true, he can hardly be cleared of sins of 
omission. The man he describes is too much clipped 
and shorn of his originality ; not as daring or as radical 
as we feel the real Socrates must have been ; too purely 
a moraliser, and even a proser. He could neither have 
inaugurated a new philosophy nor met a reformers 
death. But this is not all. Xenophon has a construc- 
tive scheme in his mind. He writes not as a simple 
chronicler, but as a practised literary man. And his 
thesis is indeed constantly before him as he writes: 
He is not penning history in the modern sense. It is 
a eulogy that he gives us, not a biography, much less 
an estimate ; and his view is limited by his apologetic 
and eulogistic aim as much as by his personal inca- 
pacity for pure speculation. 

There was doubtless a temptation to each writer to 
simplify the complex personality of his subject by 
selection and omission. It was not easy to reduce to 
the simple moralist the man who could sit out the 
strongest at a drinking party, whose jests touched 
themes on which silence is deemed best to-day, and 
who could apply the principles of his philosophy to the 
arts of the courtesan. Nor, on the other hand, is it 
easy to recognise as a purely speculative thinker one 
who tells Aristippus that he knows nothing of any but 
relative good. 

It is plain, indeed, that we do not attain to colourless 

history in either of the great witnesses. We cannot 
escape from an altered Socrates by the simple process 
of taking Xenophon as final. It is as serious an error 
to lessen and make commonplace what was great and 
original, as to idealise and magnify. Plato's view is 
that of the poet and the idealist, but there is little 
question that he saw the inner truth of Socrates more 
clearly than the practical Xenophon. It has been seen 
before that the Memorabilia partakes little of the 
nature of notes. Xenophon is not a Greek Boswell, 
keeping chronological records of his master's words and 
doings. What he gives is a defensive plea with a 
collection of sample teachings, and a description of the 
method of their impartation. The individual characters 
of the discussions recorded are but indifferently realised. 
The answers put into the mouths of those who converse 
with Socrates seem sometimes prepared so as to minister 
to the greater glory of the principal speaker. It may 
be no objection that the opinions of Socrates are the 
opinions of Xenophon, for he may have accepted his 
philosophy complete from his teacher ; but whether an 
objection or not, it is true. There is, too, about the 
whole of the Xenophontic portraiture a flatness that 
contrasts with the dramatically sharp realisation of 
individual features in the Platonic dialogues. Some 
few passages, like the talk with poor Euthydemus, 
make an approach to vigour and vividness, but a good 
deal of the matter of the Memorabilia is a little dull 
and insipid. Now, the charm of the conversation of 
Socrates was, we may be certain, very great, to attract 
men as it did through so many years, and it is per- 
missible to think that some of its fascination has been 
missed in the record, as well as some of its less facile 



elements, and much of the deep radical thought covered 
by its light play. 

The most modern view of Xenophon's Socratic 
writings,^ is that they are really composed in the 
spirit of "tendency." As Xenophon departs from 
history in his idealisation of Agesilaus, and makes 
Cyrus the central figure of a historical romance con- 
taining views of his own on education and govern- 
ment and many other matters, so in his Socratic 
writing he is not by any means a rigid historian, but 
an artist in literary portraiture, and the Socrates of 
the Memorabilia and the CEconomicus is to some 
extent an imaginative production. According to this 
view, we have to deal not with the plodding chronicler 
whose historic veracity is unquestionable if his vision 
is limited, but with a literary artist who presents a 
picture of his hero's life and teaching in accordance 
with a certain thesis of personal goodness in character 
and positive philosophic content in teaching. If he 
has read his master aright, a true picture may be given, 
but it is not got by historical exactitude. On its 
literary and quasi-historical side it will be a view 
analogous to his view of Agesilaus. Philosophically, 
other views representing the negative and hortatory 
sides of the Socratic work had been put forth with 
which Xenophon was dissatisfied, not because of incor- 
rectness so much as of incompleteness. He was deter- 
mined to show his master not as the perpetual 
questioner so much as the oracle of his friends, the 
teacher of positive truth, the guide in personal per- 
plexity, the trainer of intellectual gifts for the public 
service. And religiously, too, he felt that he could 

^ Dakyns, Works of Xcnojjhan, iii. pp. xxi, xxii. 




give a more satisfactory representation of Socrates 
the pious man and the good citizen than could be 
gathered by those who had not personally known him, 
and whose impressions came to them from accounts 
that emphasized the perplexity in which, from their 
negative character, his discussions left men, modified 
by praises of his personal faith and piety. 

Of the record thus given, the doctrine that virtue is 
knowledge and the dialectic of definitions are absolutely 
certain Socratic teachings. These things, indeed, are 
known as such through the testimony of Aristotle and 
the agreement of the Socratic schools. Teachings there 
are, it is thought, in the Memorabilia which find no 
analogies in the other writings of Xenophon ; and, pro- 
vided other more probable sources do not ofier them- 
selves, these may turn out to be truly Socratic. Other 
matter must be judged by its afiinity with the ascer- 
tained teachinor. The result is that we fall back inevit- 
ably on more or less subjective grounds of judgment. 
The references of Aristotle being accepted as of unques- 
tionable accuracy, there remains the task of sifting 
Socratic teaching from the mass of Plato's dialogues 
and the Socratic works of Xenophon. 

One or two principles tend to safeguard the truth of 
the matter. If Platonism is Socratic teaching idealised 
and developed in some directions almost beyond recog- 
nition, the artistic sense of Plato, as Fouillee^ remarks, 
is too perfect for him to attribute to his characters 
doctrines of which they could not even have possessed 
the germ. The outgrowth is not monstrous but har- 
monious. And again in Xenophon the special appeal 
of his apology would have missed its aim had the 

^ La Philosophic de Socrate, Mtthode Gen^rale^ i. ix. 

I lO 




real Socrates been to the ordinary Athenian a figure 
broadly irreconcilable with Xenophon's presentation. 
It is a view something like that of the unprejudiced 
man of average intelligence, although written by a man 
who is to the limit of his capacity a devoted disciple. 

Taking whatever truth this view may hold into 
consideration, what we shall be led to will be careful 
judgment of all Xenophon's testimony, and the elimi- 
nation of whatever can be shown to spring from his 
idiosyncrasies. In his Socratic writings it is evident, 
from criticism/ that there is much that is suspiciously 
like a personal contribution rather than a record, — the 
interest in strategy and cavalry generalship generally, 
in field sports and the management of a country estate, 
the fondness for Persian illustrations, the comparisons 
of Lacedsemon with Athens. We cannot build a true 
account of the Socratic philosophy merely by making 
an uncritical collection of quotations from all writino-s 
that mention the name of Socrates. There must be 
a "discerning of the spirits." But with the few but 
sure criteria given, the task, while difficult, is not im- 
possible. It is not contended that much will not 
remain doubtful, nevertheless we may by taking pains 
reach a substantially correct view. 

The difficulty, indeed, of this is not to be minimised. 
Take one point, supposed to be, above all, well estab- 
lished, the Socratic confession of ignorance, so beauti- 
fully dealt with in the Apology, as the basis of the 
oracular verdict awarding Socrates the crown of 
wisdom. Turn to Xenophon, and, as Benn has shown, 
nothing is more certain than that, if his testimony is 
to be accepted, Socrates was of all persons the least 

^ Cf. Dakjns, loc. cit. 


self -distrustful. He was accused sometimes of virtually 
saying, " Come unto me and I will give you restless- 
ness " ; 1 but in the Memorabilia he appears as a person 
who has no doubt whatever as to his own competency 
to pronounce verdicts on matters the most difficult and 
the most diverse. He can instruct a field officer or a 
statesman, can pluck out the heart of the mystery of 
artist and artisan alike. As was said of Macaulay, 
many would be glad to be as sure of anything as 
he is of everything. Compare this somewhat self- 
complacent state of mind with the enquirer of the 
Socratic dialogues of Plato, and it will be seen 
immediately how great must be the allowance for the 
point of view. Can we simply, as Benn does, attribute 
Socrates' confession of ignorance to Plato, who had a 
rigorous conception of knowledge, and who here puts 
his own idea into the mouth of his master and draws 
" a discreet veil over the positive side " of his teaching 
(for which we must resort to Xenophon), or can we 
reach a point where these apparent contradictions are 
reconciled ? 

As to this particular point we have incidental but 
emphatic testimony from Aristotle, from whom words 
can be quoted that seem to deny positive teaching to 
Socrates, of whom he says that he asked questions 
but did not give replies, confessing that he had no 
knowledge.^ But while such an utterance establishes 
the point against which Benn contends, by showing the 
characteristic attitude of Socrates, it cannot, of course, 
in view of other and ampler testimonies, be taken as 
more than a mere description of a method that was 


Arist., Dt Soph. Elench, 183&, 7. 




The authority of Aristotle again enables us to say 
that of the mass of matter put forward in the name 
of Socrates, certain doctrines belong to the Platonic 
Socrates, not to the Socrates of history. He is 
"accredited" by Aristotle with two things, inductive 
arguments and definition by universal concepts ; ^ and 
with being also the first to apply this procedure in the 
province of ethics.^ But these concepts, upon which 
knowledge must rest, have not in the thought of 
Socrates become hypostatised into independent realities 
of a world above sense upon which the mind prepared 
by dialectic discipline alone can gaze.^ This is Platonic 
doctrine. What with Socrates is as yet a product of 
abstraction, having reality in the mind only, is in the 
Platonic development an existence above and beyond 
individual objects, is indeed the only reality. Where 
this doctrme is taught, and where knowledge is traced 
to the mind's prenatal view of an eternal ideal world, 
recollection of which is awakened through the dialectical 
process, we have left the historic Socrates behind and 
are listening to Plato. In the identification of virtue 
and knowledge, too, Socrates and Plato agree ; but there 
is, as Zeller points out,* a difference not negligible. 
Socrates knows but one virtue which, because it is 
science, is communicable. Plato does not consider 
conventional virtue altogether valueless ; ^ it is a step 
to that which is based on knowledge.^ Nor does his 
doctrine of the unity of virtue coincide with that of 
Socrates, for he admits the existence of particular 

1 Meta. 1078&, 27-30. 2 /^^ io78^>, 17-23. 

3 Ih. 10786, 30-32 ; 1085a, 37. 

* Plato and the older Academy, p. 448 sq. 

« Meno, 97 sq. « Rejmh. 518 D, E. 



virtues, such as temperance and bravery, fostered by 
music and gymnastic,^ in the absence of the know- 
ledge upon which alone, he yet holds, perfect virtue 
can be based. 

By the use mainly of such criteria as the Aristotelian 
testimony, the artistic verisimilitude of the Xeno- 
phontic and Platonic portraits, and the study of the 
various developments of the Socratic philosophy, a 
view at once self-consistent and faithful to critically 
sifted testimony may be gained. It is by its success 
or failure in approximating to this that any attempt 
must be judged. 

1 Repuh. 410 ; Zeller, Plato, p. 451. 





THE TEACHING — continued 

1. SocRATic Method. Negative Criticism. Pro- 
minence OF this, and Misconceptions arising 


However it may be as to the respective selection by 
Plato and Xenophon of the negative and positive 
elements, as the main matter of their representation, 
each is found in each. The positive in Xenophon is 
relieved by examples of negative criticism ;i the negative 
in Plato by such positive doctrines as the doctrine of 
the knowledge that measures pleasures,^ and the 
doctrine that virtue is knowledge.^ And it is also 
certain that the negative, critical side of the Socratic 
philosophy- was so prominent that it was in danger of 
being taken for the whole. Xenophon * speaks of 
those whose words and writings have given rise to the 
belief that "however powerful Socrates may have 
been in stimulating men to virtue as a theorist, he was 
incapable of acting as their guide himself," and wishes 
those who hold such views not to confine them- 
selves to what " Socrates effected ' by way of castiga- 

^ E.g. Euthydemus, Xen., Mem. iv. ii. 
2 Ih. 361. 


^ Protagoras, 357. 
'* Mem, I. iv. 1. 

tion' in cross-questioning those who conceived them- 
selves to be possessed of all knowledge, but " to weigh 
*' also his everyday conversation with those who spent 
their time in close intercourse wath himself." He is 
anxious to show, as against impressions created by 
certain writings (of Plato, Antisthenes, and others (?)), 
that Socrates is a successful practical moralist and 
teacher as well as an inquirer. 

Now, while we may admit that Xenophon succeeds 
in this, it is plain^that the thing which struck many 
of his contemporaries about Socrates was just his 
negative criticism of current opinions. It seemed to 
them the characteristic of his philosophy. But even 
Xenophon himself, in a passage already quoted,^ estab- 
lishes the very thing he is attempting to modify — 
*' He himself never wearied of discussing human topics." 
And his discussions were inquiries, searches for defini- 
tions, proceeding by way of rejection on examination 
of successive instances of the imperfect and the in- 
applicable until some statement was reached which 
was felt to satisfy the intellectual necessities of the 
case. The thing to be remarked is, that it was the 
process apparently mucli more than the conclusion 
which impressed many of the contemporaries of 

Everywhere he complained that he found unreal 
knowledge, ignorance unconscious of itself and posing 
as knowledge. He asked for definitions, and was fur- 
nished with instances. People were moving in mental 
ruts, and without a clear conception of the end of their 
activities. They were accepting as knowledge terms 
and phrases standing for something that lay aside, 

^ Mem. I. i. 16. 




outside of their minds, round which their own intellect 
had never played. Society, custom, conventional re- 
ligion were supplying them with the framework of 
their mental life ; their minds were building no man- 
sions for themselves. It was this irreflective accept- 
ance of convention that must first be shaken before 
knowledge could be gained. He found everywhere the 
conceit of it but not the reality. Orators, men of affairs, 
poets, craftsmen, were guilty alike. Eloquent speeches 
were made in the assembly, in which terms such as 
justice, virtue, courage were freely used, without the 
speakers being able to define them. Men judged them- 
selves fit for statecraft because of success in some 
handicraft ; poets could give no rationale of their pro- 
ductions, but were the subjects of a kind of divine 
madness.^ He could find no one who could rationally 
justify the conceptions he held of the nature of things. 
Thus, of necessity, the destructive and negative side of 
his mission came to be prominent. Worship, for ex- 
ample, was a great element in Athenian life. If the 
time had not come when it was " easier to find a god 
than a man at Athens," it is certain that acts of 
religion were liberally interspersed through Greek life. 
All its normal activities were consecrated. And if any 
conception should have been clear to the mind of an 
Athenian, it should have been that of piety. Take the 
case of Euthyphron. Socrates meets him in the porch 
of the King Archon, he himself having been impeached 
as impious at the instance of Meletus. After explaining 
the matter to Euthyphron, who is greatly astonished at 
finding him about the place, Socrates, in his turn, 
inquires what is the business which has brought 

^ Apol. 22. 




Eutliyphron there. He receives the answer that 
Euthyphron is indicting his father for homicide, as 
having caused the death of a slave by violence and 
neglect. Socrates marvels very much at the course of 
action his acquaintance has adopted, and asks him if 
his "knowledge of religion, and of things pious and 
impious is so very exact that, supposing the circum- 
stances to be as he states them, he is not afraid lest he 
too may be doing an impious thing in bringing an 
action against his father." Euthyphron has no mis- 
givings in the matter. He is regarded as a prophetic 
man, and considers himself a specialist in religious 
knowledge. According to his view, it is a pious thing 
to prosecute a homicide, even when the homicide is his 
own father. Socrates professes himself greatly im- 
pressed by a knowledge which in such circumstances 
can impart unswerving confidence of being right to its 
possessor, and conceives that his own cause would be 
greatly strengthened by instruction at the hands of 
Euthyphron ; but in the meantime he is eager to learn 
the nature of piety and impiety which his friend knows 
so well. " Piety," Euthyphron answers, " is doing as I 
am doing." And he proceeds to support, from the myths 
of the gods, the propriety of punishing the guilty, 
whatever relationship he may hold to the avenger. 
He does not answer the question of Socrates, what piety 
is; he supplies an instance of what he deems pious 
conduct. As to the mythological support adduced, 
Socrates asserts that, for his own part, he doubts these 
stories ; and he asks Euthyphron if he himself seriously 
believes them. Euthyphron's faith is of a hardy kind, 
and he is anxious to impart of the fulness of his know- 
ledge of the affairs of the gods to Socrates, who, how- 





ever, defers this to a more convenient season, and 
succeeds in bringing the discussion back to the question 
of piety. He wants to get at the general idea, " which 
makes all pious things to be pious." Euthyphron an- 
swers that it is " what is dear to the gods." Socrates 
has now got an answer of the type required, whether 
true or untrue. It turns out, however, on examination, 
that as there are, by admission, differences amongst the 
gods as amongst men, about questions of justice and 
honour, no course of action can be described as " dear 
to the gods " without qualification, for the same thing 
may please some and displease others. Thus by the 
definition the same action would be both pious and 
impious. The definition is then amended so as to de- 
clare that what all the gods hate is impious, and what 
they love pious or holy. Euthyphron accepts this. 
The question then arises, does the quality of the act 
precede and cause the love of the gods, or is it created 
by their love ? It is decided that the gods love what is 
holy because it is holy ; it is not their love that makes 
it such. The question still remains. In what does the 
pious or holy consist ? " My question, Euthyphron, 
was what is holiness ? But it turns out that you have 
not explained to me the essence of holiness. You have 
been content to mention an attribute which belongs to 
it, namely, that all the gods love it. You have not 
told me what is its essence. Do not, if you please, 
keep from me what holiness is ; begin again and tell 
me that. Never mind whether the gods love it, or 
whether it has other attributes ; we shall not differ on 
that point. Do your best to make clear to me what is 
holiness and what is unholiness." ^ 

1 Euthyph. 11 (Church). 


" But, Socrates, I really don't know how to explain 
to you what is in my mind. Whatever we put forward 
always somehow moves round in a circle, and will not 
stay where we place it." 

"I think that your definitions, Euthyphron, are 
worthy of my ancestor Daedalus. If they had been 
mine, and I had laid them down, I daresay you would 
have made fun of me, and said that it was the eon- 
sequence of my descent from Daedalus that the defini- 
tions which I construct run away, as his statues used 
to, and will not stay where they are placed. But, as it 
is, the definitions are yours, and the jest would have 
no point. You yourself see that they will not stay 


" Nay, Socrates, I think that the jest is very much 
in point. It is not my fault that the definition moves 
round in a circle and will not stay still. But you are 
the Daedalus, I think : as far as I am concerned my 
definitions would have stayed quiet enough." 

"Then, my friend, I must be a more skilful artist 
than Daedalus : he only used to make his own works 
move ; whereas I, you see, can make other people's 
works move too. And the beauty of it is that I am 
wise against my will. I would rather that our defini- 
tions had remained firm and immovable than have all 
the wisdom of Daedalus and all the riches of Tantalus to 
boot. But enough of this. I will do my best to help 
you to explain to me what holiness is; for I think 
that you are indolent. Don't give in yet. Tell me, 
Do you not think that all holiness must be just ? " 


I do." 

In obedience to this suggestion a new definition is 
sought in the idea of justice. The question whether 




justice and piety are coextensive is settled in the nega- 
tive. Justice is the more extended notion. Euthy- 
phron now ventures on the statement " that piety and 
holiness are that part of justice which has to do 
with the attention which is due to the gods"; the 
other side of justice is in application to human things. 
Socrates thinks this a good answer. But it needs 
elucidation. If attention means here what it means, 
say, in grooming and tending cattle, it implies the 
conferring of benefit on the object. Do we benefit 
the gods by our care ? We do not, Euthyphron admits. 
The " attention " paid to the gods, then, requires quali- 
fication before it can appear in a definition of piety. 
Euthyphron seeks to mend matters by saying that 
the attention he means is the attention of slaves to 
their masters. As masters use slaves, so the gods use 
men. Precisely what the results of this instrumental 
activity are is what Socrates wants to know, and 
Euthyphron replies : 

"I told you just now, Socrates, that it is not so easy 
to learn the exact truth in all these matters. However, 
broadly I say this : if any man knows that his words 
and deeds in prayer and sacrifice are acceptable to the 
gods, that is what is holy; that preserves the common 
weal as it does private households from evil : but the 
opposite of what is acceptable to the gods is impious, 
and this it is that brings ruin and destruction on all 

"Certainly, Euthyphron, if you had wished, you 
could have answered my main question in far fewer 
words. But you are evidently not anxious to instruct 
me : just now, when you were on the point of telling 
me what I want to know, you stopped short. If you 




had gone on then, I should have learnt from you 
clearly enough by this time what is holiness. But 
now I am asking you questions, and must follow 
wherever you lead me ; so tell me, what is it that you 
mean by the holy and holiness ? Do you not mean 
a science of prayer and sacrifice ? " 

" I do." 

The conclusion reached this time is that holiness is 
" an art of traffic between gods and men," the asking 
of what we stand in need of from them, and giving 
back to them what they stand in need of from us. 
This is agreed to. But a difficulty arises. It is easy 
enough to see how human needs are met by the gods, 
not how divine needs are met by man. Euthyphron 
thinks that the gifts we give the gods are not benefits, 
but " honour and homage," and " what is acceptable to 
them." But this is to deliver himself anew into the 
hands of Socrates, who asks : 

"Then holiness, Euthyphron, is acceptable to the 
gods, but it is not profitable, nor dear to them ? " 

" I think that nothing is dearer to them." 

" Then I see that holiness means that which is dear 
to the gods ? " 

" Most certainly." 

But the definition has now assumed a form already 
rejected. Holiness and what is dear to the gods, it 
was decided, are quite dififerent things. Euthyphron 
has just repeated a definition which mistakes the 
attribute for the essence, and all the work is to do 
again. The inquiry has so far been futile. But, for 
his part, Socrates does not mean to give in. He urges 
Euthyphron to give his whole mind to the question, 
and to tell him the truth. He must know exactly 




the distinction between the holy and the unholy, or 
he would never surely have dared to undertake the 
prosecution of a parent for homicide, for fear of the 
divine anger if he were in the wrong. Socrates is 
at a juncture where he has special need of guidance 
in such matters, in order to repel the charge brought 
against him by Meletus. Will Euthyphron not impart 
the secret? But Euthyphron has had enough. The 
discussion must wait. He is in a hurry, and it is time 
for him to be off. 

This dialogue is a perfect example of Socrates' cross- 
examining method in its simpler form. A question is 
started. Deprecating any ascription of knowledge to 
himself, that people may be disposed to make, Socrates 
presents himself as the earnest inquirer, yearning for 
instruction ; he receives answers in succession, shown 
by their opposition to admitted principles to be in- 
sufficient or on other grounds inadmissible. The 
process is really a stripping of the interlocutor of 
his mental armour wherein he trusted, and reduction 
of him to defenceless embarrassment. Incapable of 
fatigue, Socrates is ready always to begin the quest 
anew; but the exhausted spirit of his companion 
usually craves repose. Protagoras has great admira- 
tion for the argumentative skill of Socrates, but is 
not prepared at the end of a long discussion to join 
him in fathoming the questions that have engaged 
them to the bottom ; " it is high time for him to 
betake himself to other business."^ No satisfac- 
tory solution of the problem set has been reached: 
all that has been done is to demonstrate the in- 
sufficiency of common answers. Socrates is the 

^ Frotacj. 361 E. 

deadly enemy of the commonplace in explana- 

Euthydemus wished to be a successful man of action, 
and believed the way to attain this to lie through 
knowledge of what was in books. He had collected 
a large library, consisting of the most celebrated poets 
and philosophers; and already, through his effort to 
know "the best which had been thought and said 
in the world," conceived himself to have profited above 
many his equals, and looked forward confidently to 
a political career though he had not yet made his 
maiden speech in the assembly. Socrates believed 
that the ruling art must be learnt like other arts, 
and could be best learnt by intercourse with men 
of light and leading. He took, therefore, the oppor- 
tunity of stating his opinion in jocular fashion in the 
hearing of Euthydemus, who had displayed anxiety 
"not to be thought to have learnt anything from 
anybody," and was trusting solely to his bookish 

"It is clear from his customary pursuits, is it not, 
sirs, that when our friend Euthydemus here is of full 
age, and the State propounds some question for solu- 
tion, he will not abstain from offering the benefit of 
his advice? One can imagine the pretty exordium 
to his parliamentary speeches which, in his anxiety 
not to be thought to have learnt anything from any- 
body, he has ready for the occasion. Clearly, at the 
outset, he will deliver himself thus : ' Men of Athens, I 
have never at any time learnt anything from anybody ; 
nor, if I have ever heard of anyone as being an able 
statesman, well versed in speech and capable of action, 
have I sought to come across him individually. I have 




not so much as been at pains to provide myself with 
a teacher from amongst those who have knowledge; 
on the contrary, I have persistently avoided, I will 
not say learning from others, but the very faintest 
suspicion of so doing. However, anything that occurs 
to me by the light of nature I shall be glad to place 
at your disposal/ " 

And then there came the usual comparison of the 
political art with other arts, in its need of a special 
training : " . . . How appropriate would such a preface 
sound on the lips of anyone seeking, say, the office of 
State physician, would it not? How advantageously 
he might begin an address on this wise: 'Men of 
Athens, I have never learnt the art of healing by 
help of anybody, nor have I sought to provide myself 
with any teacher among medical men. Indeed, to put 
it briefly, I have been ever on my guard not only 
against learning anything from the profession, but 
against the very notion of having ever studied medi- 
cine at all. If, however, you will be so good as to 
confer on me this post, I promise I will do my best 
to acquire skill by experimenting on your persons.' " 

By and by Socrates enters into direct conversation 
with the young man, and learns from him the object of 
his studies: he wishes to be a statesman and an ad- 
ministrator. Socrates commends his ambition, and 
inquires whether he thinks it possible to excel in 
these matters without being just and upright. Euthy- 
demus both believes himself to be an upright man 
and to be able to " expound the works of righteousness." 
The opening is now given for the process of examina- 
tion. Socrates suggests an attempt at classification of 
actions. Under R for righteous, all apparently just 


and upright deeds shall be put. Under W for wrong, 
all unrighteous and unjust deeds. Well, then, on which 
side must lying go, and deceit, and chicanery, and en- 
slavement ? All are clearly wrong, Euthydemus thinks. 
Well, but, Socrates goes on to ask, if in war a general 
enslaves an unjust, wicked, and hostile State, what is 
the moral colour of the action ? This is right, Euthy- 
demus believes; and to deceive the foe, he suggests, 
while at war with them, is not thought wrong; or 
to steal their possessions. Thus, everything which at 
first was set down to the side of injustice must now 
be placed also on the side of justice. Thus, to define 
injustice is something different than to instance specific 
acts which are not constant in their quality. If the 
statement of what injustice is lands us in contradictions, 
it cannot be true. 

The definition is then amended to this effect : " that 
while it is right to do such things to a foe, it is wrong 
to do them to a friend ; but in dealing with the latter 
an absolutely straightforward course is necessary." ^ 
Euthydemus agrees to this change. But here still 
difficulties emerge. Casuistical questions arise. It is 
suggested that a general, in stress of war, may revive 
the courage of his demoralised men by a false state- 
ment ; that a parent may, by an act of deceit, admini- 
ster to a sick child medicine which may save his life ; 
that one may take from a friend in melancholia the 
weapon with which otherwise he might commit suicide. 
What is the character of the act in such cases ? 
Euthydemus now wishes to withdraw his wholesale 
assignation of such acts to the side of injustice. Thus, 
in spite of himself, Socrates compels his interlocutor to 

^ Mem. II. ii. 16. 



review his own thoughts, to challenge them, and to 
refuse to rest in mere current conventions. No satis- 
fying definition of justice is reached ; the conclusions 
are negative, but, at anyrate, the ground is cleared. 
Reflection is awakened. 

The common practice with him, which was, as we 
have seen, to press for a provisional definition of the 
subject of inquiry, may be further illustrated. In the 
Laches, beginning with the question of the education 
of the sons of Lysimachus and Melesias, and specially 
with the suitability of a particular accomplishment, 
that of fighting in heavy armour, Socrates is no sooner 
summoned as counsellor than he characteristically turns 
the inquiry to the nature of courage, the special part 
of virtue immediately under consideration. He asks 
Laches: "Tell me, if you can, what is courage ?"i 
Laches gives a definition which is found on examina- 
tion only to meet certain cases. The heavy armed 
Greek infantry soldier fights ^n one way, the Scythian 
cavalryman in another. The Spartans at Platsea 
showed courage, not by remaining in their ranks, but 
by a flight and sudden rally. And Socrates goes on 
to show that there are many other kinds of courage. 
Courage is not shown in war only, but in storms, 
illness, hardship, in political conflict, and in personal 
struggle against self-indulgence. " What is that com- 
mon quality which is the same in all these cases, and 
which is called courage?" 2 Another efibrt resolves 
courage into endurance. But there is an endurance 
which is unintelligent, and thus evil and hurtful. And 
yet Laches thinks that one devoid of foresight and 
calculation who faces odds, is braver than one who faces 
1 Laches, 190 E. 2 Laches, 191 E. 



battle with full knowledge of all the circumstances. 
Thus the inquiry lands again in contradiction. Cour- 
age is a noble thing, and the uncalculating endurance 
which Laches thinks to be courage is decided to be 
evil and hurtful. Thus courage is at once noble and 
base. Something is wrong. 

" Then, according to your statement, you and I, 
Laches, are not attuned to the Dorian mode, which is 
a harmony of words and deeds ; for our deeds are not 
in accordance with our words. Anyone would say 
that we had courage who saw us in action, but not, I 
imagine, he who heard us talking about courage just 



Laches is bewildered. He is a practical man, has 
fought beside Socrates in the wars, and thinks he 
knows what courage is; but he halts: "I am really 
grieved at being thus unable to express my meaning. 
For I fancy that I do know the nature of courage ; but 
somehow or other she has slipped away from me, and I 
cannot get hold of her and tell her nature." ^ In the 
end courage is left without accurate definition, though, 
in the tentative definitions, elements that any scientific 
definition must take account of are brouofht forw^ard. 
It must include, not only the natural unmeaning im- 
pulse which Laches wishes at one point to identify with 
it, but the clear-eyed consciousness of those who in- 
telligently face moral or physical dangers.^ 

The same course is pursued in the Lysis with a like 
negative result. " What is friendship ? " is the question. 
Is the friend the lover or the loved ? Is friendship 
one-sided or reciprocal ; is it a relationship of the good 
or evil, like or unlike or indifierent ? No satisfying 

1 Laches, 193 D, E. - Laches^ 194 B. ^ jgwett, i. 83. 



definition is reached, but reflection is made to play on 
the subject from every side. Suggestions of friendship 
as a ministry and means to virtue are thrown out ; but 
all is questioning and tentative. The first object of the 
discussion is attained if the speakers and bystanders 
are made to feel that they have no full and true con- 
ception of so important a relationship, and one that 
played so great a part in Greek life. 

A similar method is followed in most cases. The 
provisional definition is put upon the rack until its 
inadequacy is revealed. The examples by means of 
which this result is reached are not selected and sifted 
in any rigid scientific fashion. They are taken from 
current speech and life. His practice in the matter 
came to be well known. It was this that Critias 
alluded to at the time that he and Charicles were 
seeking to " suppress " Socrates. " You had better have 
done w4th your shoemakers, carpenters, and copper- 
smiths. These must be pretty well trodden out at heel 
by this time, considering the circulation you have given 
them." 1 And in the Symposium, Alcibiades touches 
on the same custom of adducing handy and familiar 
illustrations and cases from daily life to test the defini- 
tions advanced in the course of discussion. " He clothes 
himself in language that is like the skin of the wanton 
satyr— for his talk is of pack -asses and smiths and 
cobblers and curriers, and he is always repeating the 
same things in the same words." 2 To overturn the 
first conception of justice entertained by Euthydemus 
he brought, as we have seen, instances of common 
practices in war and medicine ; to set aside the soldier's 
definition of courage given by Laches, well-known 

^ Xen., Mem. i. ii. 37. 

2 Symp. 221 E. 


practices of barbarian warfare and a notorious in- 
stance of Spartan tactics are adduced. His instances 
are simple and matter of fact. They speak "plain 
russet yeas and honest kersey noes." They are level 
to the average comprehension. 

And their skilful selection and application made 
them most effective for their purpose. With ingenuous 
minds the result of talk with Socrates on any great 
subject resulted in an honest admission of the unsus- 
pected difficulty of the subject and the speaker's own 
ignorance. With the self-sufficient it led to evasions 
and excuses amusing to read, but hardly amusing to 
the victim, as we saw in the case of Euthyphron.^ 
With some it led to anger, as in the case of Anytus, 
whose belief in the teachableness of virtue is so ill- 
supported by Athenian examples, and whose petulant 
warning to Socrates seems almost to hide a threat.^ 
But it did its work. It shook minds out of their 
self-complacent slumber, and started reflection. It 
made men see that the ideas that led them must bear 
the play of their intellect ; that the mind must learn 
to challenge claimants for its allegiance. 

It is easy to see how the constant repetition of this 
process gained for Socrates the reputation of one who 
was perpetually engaged in the criticism of current 
opinions without himself making any positive con- 
tribution to the sum of knowledge, — a thing which, 
indeed, he w^as constantly professing his inability to do. 
There is plenty of evidence to show that by many his 
usual methods of inquiry were regarded as issuing in 
nothing but perplexity. And he himself is reproached 
as apparently caring above all things to preserve a 

^ Cf. Protag. 361 E. 2 j/^^^^^ 94 ^ 





non-committal attitude of mind that he may be the 
freer to criticise all views and opinions. Meno's words 
are well known. He wonders whether Socrates is in 
earnest or not when he says that he does not know 
what virtue is; and after talking together for some 
time, he declares himself bewitched : " O Socrates, I 
used' to be told before I knew you that you were 
always doubting yourself and making others doubt ; 
and now you are casting your spells over me, and I am 
simply getting bewitched and enchanted, and am at my 
wits' end. And if I may venture to make a jest upon 
you, you seem to me, both in your appearance and in 
your power over others, to be very like the flat torpedo 
fish, who torpifies those who come near him and touch 
him', as you have torpified me, I think. For my soul 
and' my tongue are really torpid, and I do not know 
how to answer you ; and though I have been delivered 
of an infinite variety of speeches about virtue before 
now, and to many persons,— and very good ones they 
were, as I thought,— at this moment I cannot even say 
what virtue is." ^ It was experiences like this, often 
repeated, that made men hold of Socrates the opinion, 
which Xenophon labours to dissipate, that he was " an 
adept in the art of stimulating people to virtue nega- 
tively, but scarcely the man to guide his hearers on the 
true path himself." ^ If many went away like Euthy- 
demus from an interview with Socrates feeling them- 
selves to be " no better than slaves," or experiencing, 
like Meno, a temporary paralysis of thought ; and if, 
of these, numbers less ingenuous than these men never 
cared to submit themselves to a further experiment, 

1 Meno, 79 E, 80 A, B. 

2 Xen., Mem. i. iv. 1 (trans. Dakyns, vol. iii. pt. i. 25, note 4). 


and so never got beyond the primary negative cross- 
examination by which all comers w^ere tried, it is cer- 
tain that they would come to regard Socrates merely 
as a destructive reasoner, the eflfect of whose conversa- 
tion was to induce uncertainty and doubt. 

This prevalent opinion has not lacked support 
amongst interpreters of the teaching of Socrates. It 
has been thought that his work was essentially that of 
critical analysis, and that his teaching had no positive 
content of truth philosophically wrought out. Cicero 
considered apparently that Socrates' confession of 
ignorance was equivalent to a denial of the possibility 
of knowledge, and says of the Platonic dialogues, in 
which his teaching is given, that they contain no 
positive afiirmations, but are inquiries in which all 
arguments are listened to but no positive result 
reached.! Amongst moderns, Grote, e.g., is extremely 
anxious to show him to be a Sophist and nothing 
more, distinguished by his non - professional method 
and various idiosyncrasies, but not of another order. 
In examination, that is, of current opinions, Socrates 
relentlessly uses every negative test known to him 
by which he can show the unsound basis of such 
opinions and the wrong method of their formation; 
but, when anything afiirmative is to be said, the 
methods of philosophy are abandoned, and he dog- 
matises without subjecting his own positive conceptions 
to the play of mind so freely directed against the 
notions he rejects.^ Grote regards the two sides of 
the Socratic teaching as absolutely unconnected, — the 
philosophic reasoned side is the negative, which yields 
nothing but the discipline of examination and the 

^ Acad. i. 12, ii. 23. 

2 Grote, Plato, i. 292. 





rejection of unsound views; the affirmative side is 
reached by intellectual sallies, and a prophetic and 
doo-matic attitude is assumed which has really no 
connection with the mental preparation for reasoned 
conviction in which such stress has been laid. 

It may be at once conceded that Socrates was more 
successful in pointinor out the insufficiency of current 
views than in supplying substitutes for them. He 
disclaims the name of teacher. He denies that he 
ever taught anybody. What he did was to inquire, 
in company with his friends, into matters of common 
interest. But if the conclusion of these discussions 
w^as to prove that neither he nor they had true know- 
ledo-e, this conclusion was not the confirmation of an 
essential scepticism (which, indeed, Grote does not 
charge him with, but only with using his philosophy 
when engaged in pulling down, and with separating 
from it in building up). Another failure to satisfy the 
craving for true knowledge, and to realise the ideal of 
it which Socrates cherished, was registered ; that was 
all. There was no denial of the possibility of true 
knowledge. There was, on the contrary, a fervent 
belief that man could attain to it, and that in its 
attainment lay the universal remedy for the ills of 
the time. But such knowledge as Socrates dreamed of 
w-as high, and he could not easily attain to it. Never- 
theless, it was in the light of the ideal of knowledge 
held so firmly in his mind that he was led to turn the 
assault of his dialectic upon the lazy, haphazard, or 
conventional methods by which were formed the 
opinions which passed current for knowledge. If his 
large ideal could never secure its own realisation, it 
was, at anyrate, the power by which he saved himself 

and others from bondage to the tyranny of custom, or 
the blind following of monitions and inspirations in 
which reason played no co-operating part. If he could 
never reach the perfect, he would not in mere despair 
of it settle down contented with the imperfect. And 
here Zeller is absolutely right in saying that the 
spring of his activity and the central thought of his 
philosophy was the idea of knowledge. For want of 
knowledge life all around him was becoming un- 
regulated. The periods of terrible strain in Athenian 
history through which he had passed, when the 
ordinary moral supports of conduct seemed to fail, 
were just to him the necessary counterpart of the 
mental chaos in the nature of his contemporaries. 
Conventional morality had given way. Reverence and 
faith must feed on something other than old time 
theology. But the substitute had not come from such 
philosophy as existed. Its effect had rather been to 
increase scepticism by casting doubt on the evidence 
of the senses, by listening to which men had been led 
to adopt such strange and contradictory theories of 
the physical universe. Some teachers were accepting 
the situation, and showing men how to use the 
scepticism rising from the clashing of opinions and 
the strife of tongues in the interests of a selfish ex- 
pediency. There could be no way out of such a scene 
unless by some path of knowledge not yet trodden. 
It could not be by a naive acceptance of the evidence 
of the senses ; it could not be by a recurrence to the 
unquestioning ethics of custom, nor by a search after 
the aids of an intermittent and unreasoning impulse 
such as agitated the poets, the heart of whose mystery 
Socrates had sought to pluck out ; it could only be by 




introducing, as had never been done before, the play of 
reason in the formation of ideas, the challenge of the 
intellect to the thoughts that proposed to constitute 
themselves the furniture of each mind. 

2. SocRATic Method — continued. Imperfect Sys- 


SUMMED UP. No Scientific Epistemology but 
USE OF Reflection 

There has been much harm done by imposed syste- 
matisation. In their anxiety to secure for the splendid 
work of Socrates its full measure of recognition, men 
have been led to attribute to it more of scientific pro- 
cedure in method than it can fairly claim. It does 
not follow because he was dissatisfied with the hetero- 
geneous mass of prejudices, traditions, and customary 
beliefs which sought to pass themselves off as know- 
ledge, and showed his dissatisfaction by his criticism 
of their formation, that he was able himself to con- 
struct a scientific epistemology, and assign its proper 
weight to every contributory factor in the formation 
of the conceptions which he regarded as of such 
supreme importance. The only way in which great 
systematisation can be secured for the loose and in- 
formal Socratic teaching, is by calling in the imagina- 
tion to do for us what the sources fail to do. And 
this is sometimes openly done. Professor Ferrier said : ^ 
" In attempting to work out the philosophy of Socrates, 
I shall be compelled in the absence of full and accurate 
historical data to draw considerably on my own 
reflections for materials, and to fill in details which, 
^ Lectiwes ami Fhilosojihical Eeinains, i. p. 212. 



though implied and hinted at, are not explicitly pre- 
sented in any of the remains which are extant of the 
Socratic doctrines." In the interests of consistency 
and intelligibility he feels himself " obliged to attribute 
to him opinions which even Plato does not articulately 
vouch for as belonging to Socrates." For this course 
he considers himself to have " sufficient warrant in the 
general scope and spirit " of the philosophy of Socrates. 
" It is bad," he thinks, " to violate the truth of history ; 
but the truth of history is not violated, it is rather 
cleared up, when we evolve out of the opinions of an 
ancient philosopher more than the philosopher himself 
was conscious of these opinions containing." Which 
sounds rather like a precept for symbolic prophetic 
interpretation, than for the sober study of the history of 
philosophy. Or consider Fouillee, who wrote two large 
volumes on the philosophy of Socrates, with a con- 
tinuous attempt at s^'stematisation, with much about 
his ontological and voHtional theories, as to whose 
whole laborious effort the adjudicators of the French 
Academy, while admitting its great ability and success, 
say : " Est-ce a dire que meme avec une science aussi 
exacte et une critique aussi forte, un tel esprit et une 
pareille methode ne soient pas quelque peu sujets a des 
explications trop ingenieuses qui transforment plus 
ou moins la pensee de I'original ? . . . il est difficile 
a un esprit aussi original de garder toujours la juste 
mesure, en cherchant constamment le cote nouveau et 
profond des choses, ... on risque parfois, en accou- 
chant les textes, d'en faire sortir de ces idees qui font 
penser au pretendu mot de Socrate sur I'infidelit^ de 
son disciple Platon " ; ' the " mot " being that recorded 

1 Lci Philosophic de Socrale, i. pp. 398, 399. 



by Diogenes I^aertius, who relates that when Socrates 
heard the Lysis of Plato read he said : " By Hercules, 
what a number of untruths the young man has told 
of me ! " ^ 

But if we discard the attempt to force the pliant, 
conversationally loose discussions of Socrates into 
rigidly accurate scientific moulds, we shall find a cer- 
tain unity of principle and plan running through all his 
inquiries. Issuing directly from his conviction that the 
false knowledge, the conceit of knowledge so widely 
prevalent, was the worst barrier to the attainment of 
true knowledge, came the necessity of his intellectual 
iconoclasm. His first work was destructive, and could 
not be otherwise. As he looked round on Athenian life 
he could see nothing that commended itself to him as 
worthy the name of Science. Young, inexperienced 
men like Euthydemus, older men, held in repute as 
specialists of a kind, like Euthyphron, displayed on 
examination similar poverty of real knowledge. Yet 
everywhere fancied wealth existed; artists and arti- 
sans, statesmen and private citizens, were all living in 
the fool's paradise of a supposititious knowledge. The 
first duty of a Reformer and Teacher was plainly, then, 
that which we have seen already performed in the 
cases of Euthydemus and Euthyphron, to strip the mind 
of the wrappings which hid its real bareness and 
poverty ; to shake false confidence, awaken doubt and 
self-distrust. So long as men believed themselves to 
have real knowledge in ethics or politics, or any other 
field, so long would they be impervious to true teach- 
ing. Submission to the process of mental spoliation 
of fancied wealth was not pleasant; and the more a 

^ Dioff. Laert. iii. 35. 



man was entrenched behind walls of convention and 
tradition, the harder was it to get him to come out 
into the open and contend for the faith that was in 
him. It was the experience of Socrates that the 
Scribes and Pharisees of Athens were farther from the 
kingdom of knowledge than the humble. 

Much less impressive, therefore, to many of his con- 
temporaries, than his destructive criticism, were the 
constructive efforts Socrates seems to have made to- 
wards the realisation of his ideal of a true knowledge 
based on concepts reached by reflection. As we have 
seen, some would deny that Socrates had any reasoned 
contribution to make to the sum of positive knowledge. 
According to this view, Socrates' mind only worked 
philosophically when engaged in its iconoclastic task ; 
when he aimed at positive teaching he was simply 
uttering the language of unreasoning dogmatism ; 
what he said might claim attention as a prophetic 
utterance, but had no claim to be reasoned truth. If 
this were absolutely established it would mean a very 
serious deduction from the estimate ordinarily put on 
the Socratic work as " the invention of morality," the 
establishment of ethics on a rational basis; but is it 
established ? 

It is true that often he contented himself with 
clearing the ground without beginning any new build- 
inp- of knowledge. But it is not true that all his 
positive teaching is in the form of oracular declara- 
tions or mythical fancies. When in the conversation 
with Aristippus he finds the principle through which 
objects are beautiful in utility, his teaching may be 
untrue, but it is not unphilosophic. It is a reasoned 
theory. He holds a doctrine of finality. Adaptability 



to a consciously conceived end is, in his mind, what 
confers beauty on objects. Whether in the rigour of 
his theory he does not show blindness to facts is 
another matter; but he has something which is the 
result of philosophic reflection to impart : 

"And when Aristippus, returning to the charge, 
asked him ' if he knew of anything beautiful,' he 
answered : ' Yes, many things.' 

" ' Are they all like each other ? ' 

"'On the contrary, they are often as unlike as 

" ' How then can that be beautiful which is unlike 
the beautiful ? ' 

" ' Bless me ! for the simple reason that it is possible 
for a man who is a beautiful runner to be quite unlike 
another who is a beautiful boxer; or for a shield, 
which is a beautiful weapon for the purpose of defence, 
to be absolutely unlike a javelin, which is a beautiful 
weapon of swift and sure discharge.' 

" ' Your answers are no better now than when I asked 
you whether you knew any good thing. They are 
both of a pattern.' 

" ' And so they should be. Do you imagine that one 
thing is good and another beautiful? Do not you 
know that relatively to the same standard all things 
are at once beautiful and good ? In the first place, 
virtue is not a good thing relatively to one standard, 
and a beautiful thing relatively to another standard ; 
and in the next place, human beings, on the same 
principle, and relatively to the same standard, are 
called " beautiful and good " ; and so the bodily frames 
of men relatively to the same standards are seen to be 
" beautiful and good," and in general all things capable 



of being used by man are regarded as at once beautiful 
and good relatively to the same standard, — the standard 
being in each case what the things happen to be useful 

" ' Then I presume even a basket for carrying dung 
is a beautiful thing ? ' 

" ' To be sure, and a spear of gold an ugly thing, if 
for their respective uses the former is well and the 
latter ill adapted.' " ^ 

This doctrine may be sound or unsound. It seems 
an example of the blinding power of theory; but in 
any case it is a reasoned explanation. The element by 
which beautiful things are what they are is their 
common capability to minister to some human require- 
ment. Beauty is subsumed under utility. Corre- 
spondence with end makes things beautiful. Again, 
when Hippias of Elis presses Socrates for his own view 
of justice, he succeeds in eliciting a positive statement 
philosophically reasoned. 

*' We have had enough of your ridiculing all the rest 
of the world, questioning and cross-examining first one 
and then the other, but never a bit will you render an 
account to anyone yourself, or state a plain opinion 
upon a single topic." 

Socrates pleads, first, that he has been giving a 
practical exposition of justice in his life for many 
years ; but pressed, he goes on to say, " I assert that 
what is ' lawful ' is 'just and righteous.'" 

He then goes on to demonstrate the identity of 
observance of the law with justice ; but after arguing 
this point at length, he calls the attention of Hippias 
to the existence of unwritten laws which possess a 

^ Xen., Mem. in. viii. 



self -avenging power. And the justice which he has in 
his mind is manifestly identical with the observance 
of these laws. For the purposes of the argument cer- 
tain customs are regarded as imperfect transcripts of 
fundamental unwritten laws. The just man, then, will 
not limit his obedience to the written law, but will 
beware of incurring the certain penalty " affixed to the 
transgression of the divine code," for "there is no 
escape for the offender after the manner in which a 
man may transgress the laws of man with impunity, 
slipping through the fingers of justice by stealth, or 
avoiding it by violence." ^ 

There is apparently made here the assumption that 
human law represents the divine mind. And there are 
problems started ; for if the full conception of justice 
includes obedience to unwritten laws of God, then, 
while there may be advance by one who may be 
supposed to have preceded his fellows in insight into 
these gradually unfolding truths, it may easily bear 
the aspect of contradiction. Yet it is not really trans- 
ferring the gi'ound of action to something essentially 
different w4ien, at the last, Socrates places his own 
obedience to the law of God, uttered in the voice that 
summons him to his mission, over against the verdict 
of his fellow-citizens. The advance must appear flat 
contradiction when it comes from growing insight. 
Justice working through the stubborn medium of 
Israel's early tribal formation can only utter itself in 
the crude and partial decisions that identify the indi- 
vidual's guilt and righteousness with those of his tribe. 
The more sensitive and discriminating mind of later 
time could not tolerate this merging of man in the 

^Xen., Mem. iv. iv. 21. 



mass.i Creon so believes in the divineness of State 
law that he can understand no advance and no super- 
session of it in the interests of a larger view. Antigone 
abides by her sense of the unwritten laws, which can 
only appear to the narrow nature of the king as a 
contradiction and not an advance. There is no 
contradiction between the obedience of the just man 
to the laws which the Crito celebrates and the dis- 
obedience because of fuller insight which the Apologia 

In any case there is here a theory of justice ration- 
ally based, whether pervious at points or not, sustained 
by appeals to observation and experience, capable of 
adaptation to widely different circumstances, and con- 
sistently held. Not to be ignored either are other 
examples which Xenophon gives of positive theory and 
precept. The definition of piety ^ is wrought out on 
lines parallel with the conception of justice: it is 
narrowed to the point of legalism, but within its limits 
is reasoned. It may mean little more than ritual cor- 
rectness, but the principle is that of conformity to law ; 
the question of the truth of the worship, the being and 
moral quality of the gods, is not raised. In similar 
fashion he discourses on the wise, the good, the beauti- 
ful; on courage, governments, and politics, and the 
character of a good citizen. 

We may sum up the philosophic procedure of 
Socrates on this wise : the ruling conception of his 
mind was that of knowledge. Regarding himself as 
a man with a mission to his countrymen, bewildered in 
mind by the conflict of opinion and relaxed in moral 

1 Josh. vii. 24 ; cf. Deut. xxiv. 16 ; Ezek. xviii, 4. 

2 Xen. , Mem. iv. vi. 



tone by the loosening of conviction, he saw that no 
remedy lay in a return to crass conservatism — " the 
disease of thought must be expelled by thought." 
Morality must be built on a new foundation of 
knowledge. Holding, as he did, that choice inevit- 
ably followed the apparent best, the secret of wrong 
action for him lay in ignorance : the people *' perished 
for lack of knowledge." A moral renovation must 
follow the clarifying of men's thoughts by the admis- 
sion of mental light ; to implant the ideal of knowledge 
in them, and induce them to seek its realisation, became 
thus his lifework. Against the false knowledge — the 
conceit of knowledge which blocked the way to the 
entrance of the true, he directed the force of his cele- 
brated " irony," by which, " awaiting in an affected 
deference " the opinions of others, his ignorance not 
permitting him to propound any of his own, he sub- 
jected to searching analysis every proposed definition 
of the matter in hand, until those to whom he spoke 
were reduced to the same healthy confession of ignor- 
ance that he himself had made at the outset of the 
inquiry. This irony of his became a winnowing fan to 
separate grain from chaff. Those who endured its 
operation and still remained bent on the pursuit of 
truth, became then the subjects of that idealisation of 
Greek companionship and purification of the debased 
idea of love which constituted the Socratic Eros, that 
is, the mood or atmosphere in which common inquiry 
after truth was undertaken. But the testing, critical, 
and negative aspect of his work did not cease with 
the formation of a spirit congenial with his own as a 
" pilgrim of truth." The most favourable dispositions 
were subjected to the process which he humorously 


described as his art of intellectual maieutic,i by which 
he aided the mind in its delivery of the crude and 
incorrect notions with which it was largely filled, in 
the expectation of reaching that truth which the 
Platonic Socrates regards as innate,^ the memory 
stored up in the soul of the visions of a former life. 
Here, indeed, we come upon debatable ground. On 
one side this process looks simply like a special appli- 
cation of the sifting method; on the other, it is 
inspired by convictions which more properly belong 
to Platonism, the doctrines of the ideas and the 
acquisition of knowledge by reminiscence. What 
remains credible is that the historic Socrates, absorbed 
with the awakening of reflection and the reference of 
moral conceptions to a standard that was subjective as 
opposed to all merely authoritative and conventional 
rules, though not merely individualistic, did use such 
a process as maieutic, in the belief, not in the mind s 
possession of a heritage of truth from a former life but, 
in its power to recognise and possess itself of truth by 
the persistent examination of its gains from experience. 
How that experience was reliable he never asked. He 
had no scientific epistemology. He did not begin his 
examination of what passed for knowledge by testing 
the initial possibility of knowledge at all. He did not 
raise the special questions emerging in such an inquiry. 
Nor did any essential doubt hamper him when he 
turned from the play of his reflection on convention 
and tradition to the enunciation of positive opinions. 

In the course of his teaching he makes use of in- 
duction and definition in somewhat loose and tentative 
fashion. If the point before the mind is, say, the 

1 Thecct. 149 sq. 2 ^^^^^^ 31 ^^^ 



quality of good citizenship, he begins by enumerating 
for consideration commonly received elements of that 
character. In the matter of expenditure, for example, 
the superiority of the good citizen will be shown " by 
his increasing the resources and lightening the expendi- 
ture of the State." The disputant agreeing, Socrates 
supposes that in the event of war this superiority 
will be still farther shown by his rendering his State 
superior to her antagonists. This being clear, the case 
will be the same when he is sent on an embassy as 
a diplomatist, he will set himself to secure friends in 
place of enemies ; and in parliamentary debate he will 
serve his country by putting a stop to party strife and 
fostering civil concord. Thus through particulars, by 
disengaging their common element, Socrates works his 
way to some satisfying conception, by conformity with 
which, again, any case in dispute may be tested. What- 
ever particular instance emerges he leads the discussion 
of it back to the consideration of the essential nature of 
the quality in question.^ 

This is not done on any elaborate logical theory. 
His induction is an accumulation of instances neither 
complete nor critically sifted. It is made on no clear 
scientific principles. It is, as Piat says, " sinuous and 
multiform as life." Notwithstanding his criticism of 
tradition and custom, he believes there is truth to be 
found in the commonest judgments and opinions of 
men. What is known and admitted by all constitutes 
the beginning of his reasoning. "He had a saying 
that Homer had conferred on Odysseus the title of a 
safe, unerring orator, because he had the gift to lead 
the discussion from one commonly accepted opinion 

^ Xen., Mem. iv. vi. 1, 13 ; v. 12, 



to another." ^ Observation is, indeed, indirect and in- 
complete, and his treatment of the notions it yields 
is obliged to be level to the comprehension of his 
audience. It is not facts themselves so much that 
are put on the rack to yield their secret, as the con- 
ventional notions of them. But by examination and 
comparison these notions are widened or narrowed, 
modified or abandoned, until some sense is gained of 
their approximate adequacy to the truth of things. 
We have seen his method illustrated in dealing with 
the common notions of justice and generalship. And 
this method with more or less of thoroughness was 
applied to every type of question. He holds the idea 
up to the light, compares it with its opposite, suggests 
complementary considerations, and seeks thus to 
approach closer and closer to the heart of the matter. 
If the question is one of art, the current conception he 
finds not so much erroneous as defective, and proceeds 
to supplement it by considerations of soulfulness a 
little foreign to the placidity of Greek art in its more 
characteristic forms. He first describes the purpose 
of painting as being to represent colour and contour 
realistically ; then its method of idealisation ; then he 
passes to consider the possibility of representing 
emotion, "the characteristic moods of the soul, its 
captivating charm and sweetness, with its deep wells of 
love, its intensity of yearning, its burning point of 
passion." Parrhasius admits that faces show feelings, 
and that in their expressions they can be rendered. 
Art, in a word, to be worthy must enlarge its ideal ; it 
is to hold up the mirror to the man, soul and all. 
Sculpture must imitate not simply the gesture and 

^ Xeu., Mem, iv. vi. 15. 





poise o£ the wrestler or warrior, the tightening and 
slackening of his limbs, it must show the threatening 
of conflict and the radiance of victory.^ 

Or, is the question one of fitness for a political life 
and moral right to aspire to rule, then the aspirant to 
honour must be a benefactor to the State. But where 
to begin? One way is to increase its wealth. Does 
Glaucon know the sources and amounts of the State's 
revenues ? If this point has been omitted, as it has, he 
probably can run through the items of expenditure and 
dock off some extravagances. Ignorance here render- 
ing farther progress impossible, along the line of 
financial reform, it is suggested that war is a method of 
national enrichment. But this involves knowledge of 
the relative weight of forces ; does Glaucon know this ? 
But Glaucon is unfurnished here also. But defensive 
war and fortifications are other matters ; of course, he 
knows all about these? He is no expert in these 
matters either. Then the State's property in mines ; 
he knows about them, and why they are less pro- 
ductive than before? This also is among the things 
the would-be politician has yet to learn. Does he 
then know about the city's food supplies? It is a 
vital matter. By this time Glaucon is convinced of 
the greatness of the task he essays : " It is a colossal 
business this, if I am to be obliged to give attention 
to all these details." Socrates suggests to him to 
begin with studying how to augment the resources of 
one household before attempting to manage the ten 
thousand homes of the city. " If, therefore, what you 
thirst for is repute and admiration as a statesman, try 
to make sure of one accomplishment ; in other words, 

^ Xen., Mem. iii. x. 7. 



the knowledge, as far as in you lies, of what you wish 
to do." ^ The corrected idea of any thing or quality 
thus becomes the test of attributes and actions. The 
general idea being reached by examination of par- 
ticulars, a new particular must show its conformity 
with the reasoned conception or the reverse. By 
deduction the conception is shown to enclose the 
instance in question. Lamprocles, who professes him- 
self unable to endure his mother's sharpness of speech, 
is asked for a definition of ingratitude. He supplies 
one : " When any has been kindly treated, and has it 
in his power to requite the kindness but neglects to 
do so, men call him ungrateful." ^ He is then led on 
successively to the admission that ingratitude is com- 
parable to enslaving friends, — that it is pure evil ; that 
its degree of heinousness is directly as the benefits 
received ; that children are, conspicuously, recipients 
of benefits, — until his own conduct is plainly brought 
under the definition he has himself furnished of in- 
gratitude. In the talk with Hipparchus ^ (in which it 
may be perhaps permissible, as Dakyns suggests,* to 
see a reminiscence of Xenophon's own) we find Socrates 
first eliciting the character of a cavalry officer's work in 
its pure generality as that which " concerns horses and 
riders," and then showing successively its elements as 
preserving and improving the condition of the horses, 
the discipline of the men, and the officer's own capacity 
of inspiring them by example and speech. In these and 
similar cases we can see the practical working of the 
Socratic conceptions as criteria of acts and attributes. 
Behind the conception thus used lies the patient, if 

^ Xen., Mem. in. vi. ^ Ih. 11. ii. 1. 

* The Works of Xcnophon, i. p. Ixxx. 

3 Ih. HI. iii. 



unsystematic, labour of reflection, whose results are in 
that conception conserved for dialectical uses. But 
neither in the process towards nor from conception is 
there a rigid system. The movement is fluid, con- 
versational, often apparently casual. It is something 
like the famous definition of criticism, " a free play of 
the mind on all subjects which it touches." In the 
discourses that we have, tw^o things are often separated, 
the search for conceptions and the use made of them 
when found, so that it seems that the search is futile ; 
for in many discussions no positive conclusion is 
reached, or, on the other hand, that the principle under 
which the particular instance is to be classed is taken 
without examination. Sometimes Socrates appears 
content with analogical suggestions, as in his com- 
parison of the ruler's task to that of the herdsman,^ or 
the work of the unseen gods in the w^orld to the action 
of the soul in man.2 Nevertheless, under what appears 
sometimes as the mere sketch of a method, and 
accompanying the spontaneous dexterity of all his 
agumentative excursions, there is manifest the aim of 
attaining real knowledge, i.e. to gain true conceptions 
of the object of the thought; the plan of accumula- 
tion and comparison by means of which the elements 
of such conceptions become detached from particulars 
and unified, or conversely the application of the 
criterion to instances adduced, and the moral condition 
of successful inquiry. And it is no unanswerable 
criticism of this easy and flexible mode of search for 
truth, that it does not anticipate the rigour of the 
processes of modern science. For the examination of 
the motives and principles, emotions and beliefs which 

^ Xen., Mem. i. ii. 32. 

a lb. IV. iii. 14. 


make the moral raw material of life, it is not easy to 
see what other plan was open at the time than to turn 
the light of reflection on them, as Socrates did. As for 
natural science, as then understood, he liumorously 
disclaimed capacity for its pursuit; and if it is true 
that from time to time he cast glances in its direction, 
still the passionate pursuit of his life was ethics. His 
plan was often to start from a germinal conception, 
from a fragmentary idea, the element of truth in the 
common view, to seek a full conception ; and it was in 
the light of an idea of knowledge that he criticised so 
many of the notions current about him and evolved in 
debate. The student of natural science deals with 
facts. It is of no consequence to him what past or 
current accepted explanations are. He applies himself 
to the facts ; he looks and listens to what occurs, not 
what under some preconceived theory ought to occur. 
But then to the isolated instances accumulated by 
observation he applies the interpretative key of pro- 
visional supposition, from which, being admitted, he 
deduces that certain results can be anticipated ; and 
resorting again to observation to see if these results are 
actually to be found in nature, he arrives at length, 
after tests and trials of many kinds, and under varying 
conditions, at the confirmation of his principle of 
explanation ; his facts are bound together in a theory 
verified in all imaginable wa3^s. Nothing like this 
was ever attempted by Socrates. Natural phenomena 
possess interest for him, which shows itself in quaintly 
observant remarks. But he felt no ambition to rival 
the natural philosophers on their own ground. Nor 
did any such systematic induction reveal itself to them ; 
and the discoveries or anticipations of discoveries made 



by them were mostly fortuitously happy. Whatever 
truths of natural fact they gained, they never got 
beyond the stage of supposing that things could be 
known by talking about them rather than by watching 
them. And even Socrates' observation of the facts of 
moral life never stripped itself entirely of the lumber 
of common notions and language, so as to come into 
contact with these facts in the austere and rigorous 
fashion of natural science. Nevertheless, he was able 
to do much. Turning away from pursuits which he 
felt to be largely fruitless, and which he regarded in 
their more extreme developments as even impious, he 
bent himself to the work of establishing a reflective 
morality. He brought the subject into view in the 
field of moral action, and it remains his greatest praise 
that through him more than through any other Greek 
thinker, the individual came into his moral kingdom. 


THE TEACHING — continued 

Socrates' Interests absorbingly ethical— Value 
PLACED ON Knowledge as Basis of Action— 
Standpoint— Virtue is Knowledge 

The interests of Socrates were absorbingly ethical. 
No doubt it is possible to regard him as a speculator 
whose mind was more fascinated by the intellectual 
light of conduct than its issues. As to these he has 
been described as "terribly at ease in Zion." The 
intellectual framework of any creed or ethical system 
can occupy the mind as a mental satisfaction distinct 
from concern with the outworking of its precepts or 
evangel. Any thinker, e.g,, can approach Christianity 
as a scheme of the universe, and be occupied with it as 
such, without thereby knowing the zeal of an evan- 
gelist. But no such attitude of intellectual detach- 
ment characterised Socrates. His spirit was one of 
moral earnestness disguised under bonhomie. There 
was an evangelic ardour under the mask of the man 
of the world. He believed that he could further no 
moral interest of his countrymen save through an 
enlightenment and enlargement of their minds; and 
hence the peculiarly intellectual form of his mission. 




He regarded righteousness, the realisation of the moral 
ideal, as the goal of all his speculations and inquiries, 
and this accounts for the prevailing limit of their range. 
A moral reformer who travelled to his end by way of 
freeing and widening the minds of men, not by restrict- 
ing them, may be his not unfitting description. He was 
essentially Greek in his conception of how ethical eleva- 
tion was to be secured. Arnold quotes words which 
Goethe used about himself which might with little 
change apply to Socrates : " After all, there are honest 
people up and down the world who have got light from 
me ; and whoever gives himself the trouble to under- 
stand me will acknowledge that he has acquired thence 
a certain inward freedom." This " inward freedom " 
came to many through the discussions of Socrates. 

It is, of course, possible to gather from his discourses 
many allusions to other matters than those of conduct. 
Some of these have been already cited. No one had a 
more alert or responsive intellect. He is ready to 
discourse upon anything and everything, and often 
to advance theoretic explanations and positive opinions 
with a readiness that seems quite at issue with his 
normal attitude of learner. If the Economist may 
be cited, consider his discussion with Critobulus on 
household management; it begins with the usual 
sword-play about definitions, establishing that wealth 
is the possession of beneficial things by him who 
understands their use,^ reminding us of Ruskin's 
definition of wealth — "the valuable in the hands of 
the valiant"; he then goes on to assert that wealth 
comes to those who keep their wits upon the stretch 
and pay attention to their businesses ; ^ whose houses ^ 



(Econ. i. ^ et seq. 

2 Ih. ii. 18. 

3 Ih. iii. 

are fitting rather than grand, well ordered rather than 
crowded with furniture, possessing attached domestics 
in contrast to badly governed ones; whose farming 
is marked by wise expenditure of capital as against 
starving of its real needs; whose horse-dealing is a 
source of profit, not a short cut to poverty; whose 
marriages are the discovery of helpers in economy, 
instead of being, as with many, means of disaster. 
He deals with husbandry and war.^ He passes a 
severe verdict on the mechanic arts as physically and 
morally enfeebling. He illustrates from Persia the 
case of economy based on science and displayed in 
husbandry (if we have not here Xenophontic historic 
fiction giving itself play in a congenial field), showing 
that there the king interests himself mainly in the 
work of the farmer and the soldier. He sounds the 
praises of agriculture as at once nourishing men, 
making them hardy, generously requiting their toil, 
and preparing them equally for the stress of war or 
for mutual peaceful service. By a process of obser- 
vation and selection through rewards, congenial dis- 
positions are discovered among the farm slaves, attached 
by kindness to the employer and put in possession 
of his craft and mystery of agriculture ; - which is no 
such difficult matter to grasp in its main principles, 
but that Socrates himself can display a knowledge 
of them, rather evoked than acquired, the whole 
pursuit being indeed but a special application of 
common sense and observation. Or take the picture 
of him in the Symposiicm ^ of Xenophon, — the great 

^ (Ecoji. iv. V. vi. 2 jf^ ^11 ^i g^^ 

3 Murray regards this work as an imaginative production, Anc. Gk, 
Lit. p. 321. 




man painted in his lighter moments, as Boswell gives 
us his Johnson at the Literary Club, or with Wilkes 
in the tavern. Even in these hours his intellectual 
curiosity fastens on the possibility or need of a 
rational explanation of the commonest things. He 
moralises on scents/ on woman's capacity and train- 
ingr humorously describes and justifies his own 
dancing performances,^ discovers the rationale of 
moderate drinking,* starts the conversation in which 
each member of the party describes what he is proud- 
est of, and undertakes to defend its value,^ has his 
famous beauty contest with Critobulus,« exchanges 
chaff with the Syracusan showman,^ criticises entertain- 
ments that are dangerous or merely extraordinary ,s 
wants to know the scientific explanation of candlelight,^ 
and winds up his contribution to the evening's enter- 
tainment and profit with the praise of spiritual love.^<^ 

Here and elsewhere, beside the ever-recurring moral 
questions, are found, indeed, tokens of widely alert 
intellectual interests, the attitude of mind that wants 
to grasp the explanation of things. The necessity 
of getting to the rational core of every fact is 
imperious with him. Every amusement and spectacle 
becomes the object of incessant play of mind. He 
cannot simply enjoy anything, but, like the famous 
mathematician, wants to know of a poem "what it 
proves." It comes over one in reading of this mania 
for " improving the occasion " in his lighter moments 
even, that the Greeks must have been a good-natured 

1 Co7iv. ii. 3, 4. 

2 lb. ii. 9. 

3 lb. ii. 16-19. 

•* lb. ii. 24-26. 

^ lb. iii. 2 sq. 

« lb. V. 

^ lb. vi. 6-8. 

8 lb. vii. 2, 3. 

9 Jb. vii. 4. 

lo/J. viii. 9sq. 


people, or that from some inborn defect we are 
unable to project ourselves sympathetically into what 
for them meant social enjoyment. We feel that the 
report only partly accounts for the impression ; that the 
edge and sparkle have disappeared from the conversa- 
tion, through Xenophon's prosaic handling. So that 
we can understand how the wonder came to be 
expressed, "how it was possible that Socrates had 
not depopulated Athens through fear of his presence." 
But the extreme to which this pertinacity in pursuit 
of an intellectual satisfaction runs, still tends to con- 
firm the supreme value which he placed on knowledge 
as a basis of action, even trivial or sportive action. 
In all things — art, sport, business, social amusement — 
the soul is knowledge. 

Yet it is not in these miscellaneous argumentations 
that the deepest interest of Socrates manifests itself, but 
in the region of moral conduct. What is the rational 
basis of action? What makes the possibility of a 
moral science ? Can anything but science be taught ? 
And if virtue can be taught, must it not itself be 
science ? It was in the region of such questions that 
the Socratic philosophy lived. Practically, Socrates 
was a preacher of righteousness, but nothing could be 
farther from the fact than to regard his activity as 
analogous to those utterances of poets and soothsayers, 
produced under the pressure of gusts of feeling of which 
he complained he could get no rational account. He 
held a rational creed ; a man's goodness is directly as 
his wisdom. Nicias has often heard him say that 
" Every man is good in that in which he is wise, and 
bad in that in which he is unwise.^ "He said that 

1 laches, 194 D. 



justice, moreover, and all other virtue is wisdom. That 
is to say, things just and all things else that are done 
with virtue, are * beautiful and good ' ; and neither will 
those who know these things deliberately choose aught 
else in their stead ; nor will he who lacks the special 
knowledge of them be able to do them, but even if he 
makes the attempt he will miss the mark and fail. So 
the wise alone can perform the things which are ' beau- 
tiful and good ' ; they that are unwise cannot, but even 
if they try they fail. Therefore, since all things just, 
and generally all things ' beautiful and good,' are 
wrought with virtue, it is clear that justice and all 
other virtue is wisdom." ^ In the Protagoras we are 
told that "men err in their choice of pleasures and 
pains; that is, in their choice of good and evil, irom 
defect of knowledofe." ^ 

We have to ask further questions about this know- 
ledge. It is not any knowledge specialised within 
a narrow field, as the frequent use of analogies drawn 
from special arts and crafts might imply (though 
special virtues are called sciences); it is not tradi- 
tional knowledge nor the knowledge of ordinary 
unsifted opinion. It is implied rather than stated 
that it is knowledge of a good that is universal 
in which the personal aim becomes realised.^ The 
individual good must accord itself with the supreme 
good, the good of the whole, that which is always 
and everywhere good. This knowledge alone can 
beget and guide rational action.* Short of this there 

^ Xen., Me7n. in. ix. 4, 5. 2 p,-otag. 357 D. 

3 Mem. IV. V. 2 sq. ; iii. ix. 14 ; i. vi. 10, 14 ; CHto, 47 E, 48 A, B, 


Euthyd. 281 E, 282 C, D. 



is no virtue as there is in reality no knowledge. 
These statements must be examined. 

Sometimes it seems as if Socrates forswore the 
knowledge of or interest in anything but relative 
good. In his conversation with Aristippus he cer- 
tainly appears, at first sight, to disclaim any other 
conception. Aristippus ^ wished to know " ' if he knew 
of anything good,' " intending, in case he assented and 
named any particular good thing, like food, or drink, 
or wealth, or health, or strength, or courage, to point out 
that the thing named was sometimes bad." Socrates 
asked in return : 

" ' Do I understand you to ask me whether I know 
anything good for fever ? ' 

" * No,' Aristippus answered, * that is not my 

" ' Then for inflammation of the eyes ? ' 

" ' No, nor yet that.' 

" * Well, then, for hunger ? ' 

" * No, nor yet for hunger.' 

" ' Well, but,' answered Socrates, ' if you ask me 
whether I know of any good thing wliich is good for 
nothing, I neither know of it nor want to know.' " 

Here lie appears to give up what, in other places, he 
zealously contends for — the idea of the absolute good ; 
and in the immediate sequel identifies goodness with 
utility and utility with beauty. It is on such evi- 
dence that Grote relies for his assertion that the 
"historical Socrates, as reported by Xenophon, enun- 
ciated very distinctly the relative or subjective view,^ 
— that is, as to the nature of the good. It is, however, 
by no means certain that this surface view of the 

* Mem. Ill, viii. 2 sq. ^ Plato, ii. 585. 



passage is correct; notwithstanding the fact that 
Zelleri also reads it in this sense. What Aristippus 
inquires about is, it may be contended, as Fouillee 
contends,^ not the supreme good. He asked Socrates 
" if he knew of anything good " (g/ n ildiiri dya&ov). And 
it is legitimate to say that ayadov n is not synonymous 
with TO dyadov; and that what Aristippus is seeking 
is not a universal definition, but a mere opportunity 
of controversial retaliation by criticising any Socratic 
selection of things as good ; just as Socrates himself 
had done to Euthydemus in the first days of their 
intercourse. To such an inquiry the response is 
apposite, that he neither knows of any good thing 
which is good for nothing, nor wants to know. Never- 
theless, the discovery of relativism in Socrates' teaching 
is obviously easy. To Euthydemus he shows (while 
setting out to inquire about "the good") that that 
which is useful in certain relations may be inter- 
changeable with that which is good in the same 
relations;^ nothing more is reached than tlie de- 
finition of a particular good as a particular utility. 
So of beauty ; he asks : " ' Can we speak of a thing 
as beautiful in any other way than relatively ? ' " and 
presumes that to "turn a thing to its proper use is 
to apply it beautifully " ; concluding that " the useful 
is beautiful relatively to that for which it is of use." * 
There is in such passages no assertion of belief in 
absolute good. He moves in the region of relativism. 
He is using the positive side of the principle by 

1 Socrates (Eng. trans. Reicliel, pp. 149 (note 4) d seq.). 

2 La Philosojihic de Socratc, i. 131 sq. 

3 Xen., 31cm. iv. vi. 8. 
* lb. IV. vi. 9. 


whose negative application he shattered the successive 
attempts of Euthydemus to define justice, and which 
served to shatter many similar tentative eflforts. In such 
conversations he seems to know nothing of absolute 
good. He knows various specific utilities ; that is all. 

Generally it is true, also, that he assumes the ordinary 
Greek view to be correct which makes happiness the 
end of human action. Yet it is certain that the inter- 
pretation he put upon happiness, his identification of 
it now with virtue, now with knowledge, separated 
him from current Greek ethics. He cannot, in an 
unmodified way, be summed up in a term like 
" Eudsemonist " without misconception. For him, the 
good, utility, and happiness are not distinguishable 
as ends; they are parts of one end, aspects of an 
indivisible ideal, after which, blindly or intelligently, 
all men strive.^ 

Some special difficulties attend on efforts at precise 
settlement of Socrates' position. If what used to be 
regarded as the prosaic and plodding report of Xeno- 
phon be followed, as has been sometimes done without a 
critical selection of materials, it would be tolerably 
easy to establish a fair case for the utilitarian view 
of Socrates ; although even then some passages would 
remain intractable, e.g. the passage that speaks of the 
unwritten laws,^ notwithstanding the strange utilitarian 
reasons advanced for obeying them, or that which 
postulates freedom ^ as the first condition of the 
virtuous life. But going beyond the Meniorahilia, even 
in the Symposiuvi we are haunted by doubts.* The 

1 Cf. S^ailles, Histoire dc la Philosophies p. 267. 

2 Xen., Mem. iv. iv. l^ sq. ^ lb. iv. v. 2-5. 
* Ante^ p. 153. 



Economist, too, the whole drift of which favours the 
utilitarian view, while containing historic matter, does, 
we feel, take us on to somewhat uncertain ground. 
The thoughts and illustrations are often more Xeno- 
phontic than Socratic, and the Apology of Xenophon 
(which Murray accepts i) does not advance our know- 
ledge much. And passing to Plato, we are faced by 
the whole question of elimination of non- historic 
elements from the number of dialogues out of which 
the true philosophy of his master is to be gathered. 
Beyond the unquestioned Socratic dialogues (as 
Apologia, EiUhyphro, Crito, Charmides, Laches, Lysis, 
and Protagoras^) there are various others from which, 
according often to the philosophic predilection of the 
interpreter, Socratic teaching is to be gleaned. Leaving 
out for the moment the Eiithydemus as in some sense 
a "sport," in the Mevo there is non-Socratic doctrine, 
and in the great dialogues Gorgias, Cratylus, Sym- 
posium, Fhcedo, and Republic ; while the doctrines of 
ideas and reminiscences can be set aside as Platonic, 
it is a delicate and difficult thing to say always what is 
a fair reading of Socratic meanings only half developed 
in Xenophon and in the early dialogues, and what is a 
real departure from his position. Even the unques- 
tioned early dialogues present problems. If we fasten, 
for instance, on the Protagoras, a dialogue so entirely 
after the heart of Grote, who seemed determined to 
find utilitarianism and philosophic radicalism in the 
thought and life of Greece, the position is not free 
from difficulty ; for where we gather such unequivocal 
evidence of the eudaemonism of Socrates we find also 

^ Anc. Gk. Lit. p. 321, 

2 Cf. Ritchie's Plato, Appendix II. p. 224. 



the dramatic contradiction of those views which with 
most certainty are attributed to him, in, e.g., his denial 
of the teachableness of virtue, the evidence for which is 
not rebutted by his later inconsistent argument in 
the same dialogue ; that is to say, that on ground, 
apparently most sure, we are not rid of an element of 
uncertainty. And if it is admissible to discard the 
Gorgias as evidence for idealism in Socrates, because it 
so flatly contradicts the understood Socratic belief in 
the identity of pleasure and good, it is not illegiti- 
mate to suggest that the unmodified Hedonism, e.g. of 
the Protagoras, be not accepted with mere uncritical 
readiness as more than a sort of provisional theory 
of morals as opposed to conventional ethics, when 
admittedly even here elements of doubt present them- 

Certain it is that whatever matter is in question, 
Socrates can generally bring forward utilitarian 
arguments for the course he himself adopts. He 
is quite prepared to show Antiphon^ that poverty 
and hard fare possess advantages of a practical and 
pleasurable order over a life of softness. He is free 
of constraint in teaching; he need not discourse to 
the uncongenial, as he takes no fees: his food is 
wholesome if plain, and hunger sharpens his appe- 
tite. His scanty clothing promotes his hardiness ; 
weather does not aflfect him. Momentary pleasures 
do not favour health ; ^ they create insatiable de- 
mands, and bring wretchedness in after years ;3 
self-control is the condition even of the lowest order 
of happiness;^ and hard training fits for efficient 

^ Xen., Mem. i. vi. 

^ Ih., The Choice of Heracles ^ ii. i. 31. 

2 Ih. II. i. 20. 
4 lb. II. i. 28 sq. 






services of many kinds, from that of the soldier 1 to 
that of the thinker. 

It is the same in the cultivation of other virtues 
besides abstinence. If it were possible to put one out 
of conceit with the advice of this moralist, it would 
be very often done by the reasons subjoined to his 
counsels. Virtue is good practical policy, according to 
Socrates. This is the teaching of the composition of 
Prodicus on the Choice of Heracles, which he repro- 
duces to Aristippus. There is no fastidiousness in 
enunciating the doctrine of rewards. "It is by acts 
of service and of kindness," he tells Aristodemus, in 
counselling similar action towards the gods, '' that you 
discover which of your fellows are willing to requite 
you in kind." ^ The great reason for brotherly affec- 
tion being preserved unbroken is the practical incon- 
venience and loss caused by the breach ; ^ and the value 
of friendship is rated mainly by capacity of service.* 
The law of consequences judges the doings of men, and 
shows that the worst thing that can happen to anyone 
is to succeed in false pretensions;^ that caprice and 
tyranny are punished in this life,^ and obedience 
to laws written and unwritten rewarded."^ There are 
inevitable results, painful and humiliating, which 
follow from wrong conduct ; and a wise man will avoid 
actions which have such a recoil upon the doer. 

This type of utterance does not, however, exhaust 
the ethical teaching of Socrates. Sometimes he speaks 
as if only one kind of consequence was to be con- 
sidered, the effect of conduct on the soul. To range un- 

1 Xen., 3fem. in. xii. 
* Mem. II. iv. 5 ; 11. vi. 
^ lb. III. ix. 12. 

2 lb. I. iv. 18. 
5 lb. I. vii. 3. 
7 lb. IV. iv. 16, 21. 

3 76. II. iii. 19. 


critically through Plato's later dialogues, in the fashion 
of Fouillee, and Lasaulx, and others, and to gather 
together sentences contradicting the apparently crude 
utilitarianism of the earlier dialogues and of Xenophon, 
as usually understood, is a comparatively easy but 
futile proceeding. We are not at liberty to draw our 
testimonies from so wide a field. But is it the case 
that, in Xenophon even, Socrates is eudaemonist only ? 
The good is successful conduct (sucrpa^la). " When 
someone asked him : * What he regarded as the best 
pursuit or business for a man ? ' he answered, ' Success- 
ful conduct ' ; and to a second question : * Did he then 
regard good fortune as an end to be pursued ? ' ' On 
the contrary,' he answered, 'for myself, I consider 
fortune and conduct to be diametrically opposed. For 
instance, to succeed in some desirable course of action 
without seeking to do so, I hold to be good fortune ; 
hut to do a thing well by dint of learning and 
practice, that, according to my creed, is successful con- 
duct, and those who make this the serious business of 
their life seem to me to do well.' " 1 That is to say, ac- 
cording to this statement, success is not the measure of 
well-doing, but well-doing is accompanied by success. 
Happiness is not grasped directly, but springs out of 
the wisdom that teaches the uses of things.^ " What 
do possessions profit a man if he have neither good 
sense nor wisdom ? " He accepts the statement of 
Euthydemus as to freedom, meaning by the term moral 
freedom, when he says he cannot conceive a nobler or 
more magnificent acquisition.^ Self-control he regards 
as the best thing a man can have.* He regards " any 

^ Xen., Mem. in. ix. 14. 
3 Mc7)i. IV. V. 2. 

2 Plato, Euthyd. 281, 282. 
* lb. IV. V. 8. 

1 64 




pleasure worth remembering " as mediated by self- 
control.1 Happiness is not in the multiphcation of 
satisfied wants, but in divine independence.^ The toil 
of a high quest is comparable to the pleasure of the 
hunter.^ Justice and uprightness are the conditions ot 
successful statesmanship.* And there are divine laws 
unwritten and self -avenging, which men must obey. 
His ideal of virtue wears the face of wisdom, of free- 
dom, of sobriety, of carefulness, and rests on self-con- 
nuest. Travelling by this path men reach the summit 
of virtue and find it the height of happiness.* His 
pupil Antisthenes considers that wealth and poverty lie 
not in a man's estate, but in men's souls,' and his own 
spiritual wealth he gained from Socrates.^ The only 
true education is to train men;« and the philosopher 
loves noble-natured souls, alert and emulous in pur.suit 

If the system of Socrates be eudsemonism, it is 
certainly not rigid and consistent. If it were permiss- 
ible to cite a dialogue like the Gorgias, nothing could 
be further away from the conclusions of, e.g., the Fro- 
taqm-as, where the doctrine is virtually pure hedonism. 
But we cannot accept the idealistic views put into the 
mouth of Socrates in the Oorgiaa and the RepuUvi 
as historical. Virtue is, in the Gorgias, harmony of 
soul, analogous to bodily health. The health of the soul 
is righteousness or temperance," and its control ing 
principle order and law. And the Republic develops 
more fully the same idea. In the Gorgms there is no 

1 Mem. IV. V. 9- 
•* Tb. IV. ii. 11. 
7 Sympos. iv. 34. 
10 lb. viii. 41. 

2 Ih. I. vi. 10. 
6 Jb. IV. iv. 19, 21. 
8 lb. iv. 43. 
11 Plato, Gorgias, 504. 

3 lb. II. i. 18-20. 
« lb. IV. V. 
« lb. viii. 23. 

qualifying of a thing as good because it is pleasant. 
" The pleasant is to be pursued for the sake of the 
good." ^ But is this after all very far from the spirit 
even of some of the Xenophontic discourses ^ and of 
some portions of those dialogues which are unquestion- 
ably Socratic ? ^ The curious pleasure Socrates took 
in a kind of self-depreciation and in finding utilitarian 
reasons for ideal actions, such as when at the end he 
points out the service death is doing him in * relieving 
him from the burden of the body, or when he points out 
to Crito the ludicrous figure an escaping philosopher ^ 
would cut, must be remembered in considering the full 
force of his teachings. 

By whatever name he chose to designate the supreme 
good, he cannot be without more ado characterised as 
a happiness-philosopher unless the happiness he speaks 
of be understood in some large sense of self-realisation. 
It would not, of course, in the least alter his eudsemon- 
ism that he found happiness in freedom or in know- 
ledge, or in denial of false or conventional wants, for 
many others did ; so and while pure hedonists in theory 
and practice might marvel, as Antiphon and Aristippus 
did, at his discovery of happiness along the paths he 
chose, his singularity in preferences would not alter the 
fact that he made happiness the end of human attain- 
ment. The essential character of a theory is not 
altered by a man saying, " I find my pleasure in the 
intellectual life," or " I find my pleasure in the culture 
of my soul," if the end is pleasure. The objection to 

1 Plato, Gorgias, 506. 2 j^g^ jy^ ^ 31^ 32^ 35^ 35 ; iv. v. 2sq. 

3 Crito, 47 E ; EiUhyd. 288 sq. 

* Phccdo, 66 B, 67 C ; Xen., A^wl. Soc. 6. 

5 CritOy 53. 


if !J 




such distinctions has been put, once for all, in the 
Philehus by Protarchus.^ " Do you think that anyone 
who asserts pleasure to be the good will tolerate the 
notion that some pleasures are good and others bad ? " 
It is the argument of Socrates in the Protagoras, that 
pleasurable things so far forth as pleasurable are to 
that extent good.^ Protarchus cannot understand plea- 
sure being made the principle by which the quality of 
actions or causes of action must be tested ; and then a 
further principle being introduced to test the foundation 
principle. It pleases Socrates continually to say that 
for him there is more delight in pursuing wisdom and 
virtue than in enjoying the pleasures of sense : but on 
this ground he has no philosophic case against the man 
who may say that he is differently built, or that he 
prefers life to be on more accessible levels than those 
trodden by the philosopher. If the standard be indi- 
vidual, this conclusion is manifest; if it be general 
consent, again it is plain that the mass of mankind 
have always chosen the less ideal delights. In fact, on 
the principle of happiness, as such, being the end o£ 
action, the wonder of Euthydemus at the rejection of it 
by Socrates is justified when he says : " If I am not 
even right in praising happiness, I must confess I know 
not for what one ought to supplicate the gods in 
prayer." ^ Nor does there seem much relevancy in the 
citation by Socrates of the mischiefs into which, in 
his view, the pursuit of happiness has led men; the 
obvious criticism from the popular viewpoint being, 
that it is not because happiness has been seen as 
the end pursued that these troubles have come, but 

1 Plato, Philehus, 13 B. ^ Protag. 351 C. 

3 Xen., Mem. iv. ii. 36. 




because it has not been pursued with sufficient appre- 
hension of the essential methods of success, the element 
of calculation, the measuring of pleasure in the Prota- 
goras ^ has been absent. 

It does not appear that in his consideration of the 
question of pleasure Socrates felt constrained strictly 
to define whose pleasure he meant, the actor's or the 
community's ; to say whether the action he spoke of, 
when he described men as seeking pleasure, was purely 
self -regarding, or action such as added to the general 
sum of happiness. Sometimes, as we have seen, he is 
open to an interpretation purely individual ; he appears 
to preach egoistic hedonism. Doubtless he trusted to 
the nature of the happiness which he set himself to 
expound to guide men rightly. His happiness was in 
virtue. Usually when he speaks of good he seems to 
consider the harmonious good of all ; he is an eudaB- 
monist. Those natures that he regarded as fitted for 
philosophy were marked by a " passionate predilection 
for those studies in particular which serve to good 
administration of a house or of a State, and in general 
to the proper handling of man and human affairs. 
Such beings, he maintained, needed only to be educated 
to become not only happy themselves and happy 
administrators of their private householdsy hut to he 
capahle of rendering other human heings as States 
or individuals happy also." ^ The work of the good 
leader, king or general, is to see that those who choose 
him " may attain to happiness through him." ^ Because 
he believes that happiness to be found in participation 
in the common life, he opposes himself* to interpreta- 

1 Plato, Protag. 356, 357. 
3 lb. III. ii. 3. 

2 Xen., 3fe7n. iv. i. 2. 

*» Jb. I. vi. 9, 14 ; n. i. 19, 28. 




tions of the happiness theory, according to which an in- 
dividual is to rid himself of all public obligations and 
follow solely his own comfort. It is not to be thought 
that happiness can be found in a sectional or parochial 
view of life, seeking only momentary pleasures ; it is 
the fruit of noble toil for one's country and one's fellows. 
It is taken for granted that it is service of this sort 
which sound men should strive after ,i service that gains 
the glory of a good name. The lirst business of a 
public man is to "benefit the city."^ And the city 
demands as sound component parts virtuous men.^ It 
is lack of devotion to the common cause that is 
ruining Athens.^ And the noblest kind of life is spent 
in the common pursuit of moral beauty, a search in 
which the love of friends becomes spiritualised.^ In 
view of such passages, to say that the theory of 
Socrates is that of a self-regarding principle throughout, 
is not in accordance with fact ; it is not consistent with 
his express statements. 

There is all through the reasonings, in which he 
appears to adopt the current standard, a certain pressure 
of intellectualism which is transforming it into some- 
thing different and higher. However logically the 
Cyrenaics came to ground themselves on expressions 
of his in which pleasure was set forth as the end, 
it is certain that their forerunners in opinion, who 
were contemporary with Socrates, found difficulty in 
recoernisinof in him a fellow-believer. To them he 
seemed a professor of the " art of misery," ^ and Anti- 
phon was not astonished that he should charge no fees 

^ Xen., Mem. lil. xii. 5. 

3 Plato, Protag. 323 A ; Protag. log. 

" Xen., Symp. viii. 9 ct seq. 

2 Ih. III. vi. 3. 

* Xen., Mem. iii. v. 16. 

• Mem. I. vi. 3. 


for imparting a craft and mystery of that kind.^ But 
they had not laid their account with the depth of the 
Socratic reflection. In that reflection there is an ideal 
sketched in which clear consciousness of aim decides 
and directs action. Haphazard success counts for 
nothing morally, and happiness that is not the bloom 
of a consciously wrought act is at best meaningless 
good fortune. If an act has issued in happiness, then 
if the moral quality of the act is decided by its results, 
it ought to be counted to a man for righteousness; 
but it is not so estimated with Socrates. It lacks the 
intellectual element. The act expressed no true grasp 
of the aim of life. Such things neither exhibit nor 
mould character ; they are not, properly speaking, moral 
events at all. The pleasure which bulks so largely in 
the reasoning of Socrates is not pleasure of any sort 
and at any price. It appears often, indeed, as the aim, 
but its true position is not easy to fix. It seems to be 
sometimes a by - product of the staple virtue with 
which man is to occupy himself in life ; and often it 
stands for self-fulfilment, not in the hedonist's sense, 
but in the sense of one who, confining himself, indeed, 
to the only world he knew, the Hellenic world, and to 
the free citizens mainly of that world, yet, within 
that restricted area, felt that we are members one of 
another. It was his view of the nature of man that 
fixed the shaping of his ideal. 

There is at the basis of Socrates' reasoning on the aim 
of action a certain anthropological view of a strongly 
marked, if narrow and defective type. In consistency 
with his belief in the identity of virtue and know- 
ledge, he holds certain views as to the nature of the 

'^ Mem. I. vi. 11, 12. 



soul, of the will, and of moral action, in process and 
end,' of greater originality and depth than have been 
always accredited to him. To him, as we have seen, 
self-knowledge was the absolutely indispensable pre- 
liminary to any true search after right thinking and 
rio-ht living. And to know oneself meant really to 
know oneself as essentially intelligence. The maxim, 
" On earth there is nothing great but man, in man there 
is nothing great but mind," would have met with his 
cordial acceptance. For him the intellect overshadowed 
all else. This is the prime discovery, and near this 
lies, too, the prime defect of his anthropology. If the 
real man can be evoked he is intelligence, and in the 
successful use of his understanding is the secret of 
self-direction, the path of moral life. Mind in us is, 
he holds, a spark of the Divine wisdom. He apparently 
argues with Aristodemus for this participation on our 
paTt, in Divine intelligence, as he presses on him the 
analogy of the participation of his body in the elements 
of the matter of the world. "Mind, alone it would 
seem, which is nowhere to be found, you had the lucky 
chance to snatch up and make off with, you cannot 
tell how."i This soul is the invisible dominatrix^ of 
the body (^ roZ (xw/xaro; Ttvpia hrlv). The Godhead " im- 
planted in man the noblest and most excellent type 
of soul. For what other creature, to begin with, has a 
soul to appreciate the existence of the gods who have 
arranged this grand and beauteous universe ? What 
other tribe of animals save man can render service to 
the gods ? How apt is the spirit of man to take pre- 
cautions against hunger and thirst, cold and heat, to 
alleviate disease and foster strength! how suited to 

1 Mem. I. iv. 8. 

2 Ih. I. iv. 9. 



labour with a view to learning ! how capable of garner- 
ing in the storehouse of his memory all that he has 
heard or seen or understood ! Is it not most evident 
to you that by the side of other animals men live and 
move a race of gods — by nature excellent, in beauty 
of body and soul supreme ? " ^ 

" Man's chief end " is decided by his nature. If his 
course is to be normal, self-realisation can only mean 
knowledge. He is not called upon to determine, " not 
to Live but Know " ; for him knowledge is life, ethical 
and practical as well as mental life. What knowledge 
is this which can effect so much ? For it must be 
clearly understood that the statements of Socrates 
cannot be watered down into declarations of the indis- 
pensability of clear light for right action, and so forth. 
He holds quite positively that there is a science such 
that it carries with it happiness and perfection, secures 
the accomplishment of an ideal that is at once mental, 
ethical, and emotional. This science is the science of 
the good. It is the science of the basic principle of 
the world and life. In the passage from the Fhcedo, 
quoted in an earlier chapter, the earnest desire of 
Socrates to find this principle established as the prin- 
ciple of nature is alluded to, and his failure to find it 
consistently followed is given as the cause of his dis- 
appointment with the method and results of the 
researches of Anaxao^oras.^ He was delighted with 
the theory which affirmed that mind ordered and caused 
all things, and argued that if this was so, then mind 
would order and arrange each thing in the best possible 
way ; and to get at the cause of generation, destruc- 
tion, or existence, the best mode of existence, action, 

1 Mem. I. iv. 13, 14. 2 pjia:do, 97 B 5^. 



or suffering must be found. For man it was necessary 
to find what was best and most fitting for himself or 
for other things, and he would know the bad by 
contrast. His disappointment arose when this grand 
principle of the Anaxagorean philosophy came, as he 
felt, to lose itself in the consideration of physical causes. 
His firm conviction was that the w^orld was the best 
of all possible worlds, and that man's nature was 
determined in accordance with the principle that 
external nature arranged all things for the best. He 
would not only deduce the true principles of physics 
from the divine perfections, but those of man's spiritual 
life also. His governing principle in all things was 
the good, in harmony with which all things were made ; 
the knowledge of which was at once true science and 
moral life. Self-realisation is thus, fundamentally, 
illumination. It is a complex doubtless, a vision out 
of which practice grows and pleasure comes, yet the 
basal thing is knowledge. If he is allowed to put his 
own interpretation on happiness, then happiness is the 
end of life ; but for him happiness is virtue and virtue 
is knowledge: thus we travel round again to the 
supremacy of knowledge. 

The self-knowledge on which Socrates insisted 
with such emphasis was really, in the first place, an 
eftbrt to get at the common mental inheritance, the 
stock of convictions which were at once elements 
of universal truth and the wealth of the individual. 
It is not the method of a rudimentary scientific 
psychology so much as introspection with direct 
reference to practice, which so often appears in his 

1 Mem. IV. ii. 24 sqq. 



" * Tell me,' he said to Euthydemus, * have you ever 
been to Delphi ? ' 

" ' Yes, certainly ; twice,' said he. 

" ' And did you notice an inscription somewhere on 
the temple : yvoj&t ciavrov (know thyself) ' ? 

" ' I did.' 

"'Did you possibly pay no regard to the inscrip- 
tion ? or did you give it heed, and try to discover who 
and what you were ? ' 

" ' I can safely say I did not,' he answered. ' That 
much I made quite sure I knew, at anyrate ; since if 
I did not know even myself, what in the world did I 
know ? ' " 

But this is precisely the easy supposition that is 
proving the ruin of men like Euthydemus. A man 
who knows himself is one who has taken at least as 
much trouble to find out his own requirements and 
capacities as the purchaser of a horse to know its 
points.^ In this self-knowledge is the secret of bless- 
ing and success in the handling of human affairs, and 
of right relationships with others. Its true starting- 
point is to test one's capacity, to distinguish bad and 
good. This is a matter requiring true insight ; neither 
health, nor wealth, nor even wisdom ^ of a sort is the 
absolute good, and the man w^ho identifies any of 
these with the end of life has not true knowledge of 

The beginnings of this knowledge coincide with the 
discovery of one's own ignorance. Distrust of the com- 

* Mem. IV. ii. 25. 

^ Ih. IV. ii. 30-33. In the view of Socrates, true wisdom carries 
moral achievement with it ; it = cnccppoa-vvtj, as Dakyns points out. 
There is a cleverness that is only a relative good. 





monplaces that have done duty for thought rises up 
everywhere in the mind. And the need that is most 
clamant is the need of knowledge. No step can be 
taken till we know in what direction to travel towards 
our true end. When once instinct and custom are left, 
there can be no guide but knowledge. Somewhere, 
wrapped up in the convolutions of the mind, there is 
an idea that helps to make our need articulate, an 
idea of knowledge in the name of which we stretch 
forward to that which is still beyond our reach. 
There is, indeed, a sense in which w^e possess that for 
which we seek. It is the poetry in their souls that 
enables men to enter into the spirit of a great poem ; 
it is the sympathy that is really a hidden identity of 
nature, that is the secret of discipleship. And Socrates 
makes his clearly expressed end the attainment of that 
knowledge the ideal of which obscurely haunts us. 

One escapes from ignorance by a process of plumbing 
the mind, and so coming to a true understanding of 
one's self. There is no escape from nature, but men 
can seek self-realisation in mistaken or in right ways. 
Knowledge shows us the right ways by showing us 
ourselves. "Know thyself" is, in the Socratic dis- 
cipline, the first commandment with promise of result. 
The play of our intelligence upon our nature is the 
beginning of wisdom. Any true admission of ignor- 
ance, the faintest consciousness of having been on the 
w^rong path, can form the starting-point of a truer 
method of search. It involves something that judges 
our present mental possessions; the seeker of moral 
truth does already, germinally, possess truth. And by 
dialectic it can be released from its concealment, so 
to speak. From the common notions of men under 

I > 

critical examination, elements of the universal detach 
themselves until the ideal end is clearly seen and 
pursued. No doubt, again, in passages w^hich hold 
teaching of this kind, we are on the borderland be- 
tween the historic and the ideal Socrates ; the innateness 
of knowledge is about to override induction of facts, 
and all to be evolved from within. But w^hat seems 
sufficiently clear is, even in the Xenophontic con- 
versations, that Socrates meant to give its place to the 
mind in knowledge. Truth could not be received by 
mere authority, or in the intoxication of possession as 
the messages of the soothsayers. We make our own 
contribution to the completed result of knowledge ; all 
we gain is conditioned by our mental make. Know- 
ledge cannot be dropped into the mind, but depends 
upon its activity. 

The knowledge of the good which we supremely need, 
according to Socrates, which he so earnestly enforces 
on Euthydemus,^ is hard to come by. There are 
multitudes of " things " that are held to be good ; but 
put under the rack of examination they are discovered 
to be relative to person, place, and time. Health may 
induce a man to commit himself to some foolish enter- 
prise from which weakness might have restrained 
liim.2 Wisdom has led to the enslavement and death 
of some. Happiness, popularly supposed to be the 
most indisputable of blessings, must not be made to 
depend on any of these things ; beauty, strength, 
wealth, and reputation have all led to the greatest 
calamities.^ There is, then, some good separable from 
all accidents of circumstance which is supreme. This 
is not explained to Euthydemus at the time of his 

^ Mem. IV. ii. 31. 

2 lb, IV. ii. 32. 

^ lb. IV. ii. 35. 



initiation into the "rough sport" of the Socratic 
dialectic. He is simply left, as so often the hearers 
of Socrates were left, in a bewilderment of negations. 

" These are matters," says Socrates, " which perhaps, 
through excessive confidence in your knowledge of 
them, you have failed to examine into." 

Elsewhere more light is given. The good Socrates 
is aiming at is something that enters into the person- 
ality as the supposed goods before enumerated do not. 
In another discussion with Euthydemus he makes it 
to be virtue in the form of freedom ^ (which he defines 
as the power to "perform what is best"), wisdom, 
" the best of all things," soundness of soul, carefulness, 
and devotion, and self-control. He argues that the 
man who has these things gains the prize of happi- 
ness, which the common Greek ethics makes to be the 
supreme good ; for intemperance cuts men off " from 
the full fruition of the more obvious and constantly 
recurring pleasures." ^ The pleasure-hunter misses 
what is noblest, and becomes impelled to what is most 
shameful. He prematurely seeks to gain delights of 
appetite, while the abstinent man will "patiently 
abide and endure till each particular happiness is at 
the flood," till, that is, the moment of its legitimate 
gratification has been reached. Thus pleasure flies 
from the man who pursues it, and falls to the self- 
controlled. Happiness, in short, belongs to virtue. 

But having identified happiness with virtue, Socrates 
proceeds to identify it with knowledge. " Wisdom," he 
had said, " is the best of all things." ^ The " beautiful 
and good " must be learnt ; the management of health 
and home, the offices of friendship and the service of 

1 Mem. IV. V. 2 sq. 

lb. IV. V. 9. 

3 Ih. IV. V. 6. 



the State, are matters of " patient application to rules." 
"A man who foregoes all height of aim, who gives 
up searching for the best and strives only to gratify 
his sense of pleasure, is he better than the silliest of 
cattle ? " The self -controlled alone " discover the hid 
treasures. These, by word and by deed, they will 
pick out and make selection of them according to 
their kinds, choosing deliberately the good and hold- 
ing aloof from the evil. Thus it is that a man 
reaches the zenith, as it were, of goodness and happi- 
ness; thus it is that he becomes most capable of 
reasoning and discussion." 1 Here the various aspects 
of the good tend to merge into unity in the idea of 
knowledge. It is by knowledge of the reality of 
things that men pursue the good and eschew the evil, 
and in following this path of knowledge they win 
happiness. The man who knows these things in their 
true nature is the man who knows them " according to 
their kinds," their essence is revealed to him; his 
choice follows his knowledge. Self-control, the 
moral preparation for dialectic, fits him to possess 
this knowledge; but his knowledge becomes the 
instrument of moral advance. Rationality and good- 
ness increase in direct ratio. 

But the paradox, "Virtue is knowledge," is not 
explained by unfolding the complexity of the Socratic 
ideal of the good ; we seem rather to move in a vicious 
circle, " Virtue is knowledge." What kind of know- 
ledge ? Knowledge of the good. But "the good" 
is virtue. Therefore the good is the knowledge of the 
good. To know good is to be good. Practice goes 
pari passu with science. In worship, correct practice 

^ M€77l. IV. V. 11, 12. 




will, it is assumed, necessarily follow from knowledge.^ 
And bravery is born in the same manner.^ The pious 
man knows what is acceptable in worship ; the science 
of divine things is in his mind, and his worship is 
the art which the science yields. Similarly, the brave 
man knows perils, real and imaginary; he possesses 
a science of risks, and his brave military service or 
his fortitude in civic troubles or private pains and 
diseases, is but the application of this special know- 
ledge. A man is not supposed to be able to have the 
true theory of bravery without being actually brave, or 
of worship while he remains irreligious. And the 
same holds good of other ethical qualities. Socrates 
does not conceive the separation of correct theory and 
practice to be possible. 

Various reasons can, of course, be adduced for the 
general identification of virtue with knowledge. It is 
not peculiar to Socratic thought ^ to teach that each 
man is led to action by what seems to him the most 
desirable aim. Each does what he thinks best. Nor, 
again, is it uniquely Socratic to teach that virtue is the 
best, that " the good " would bring to each man most 
happiness. Why then, if men by the constitution of 
their nature must do what they feel to be most 
desirable, and the most desirable thing is virtue, are 
moral wrong and failure so prevalent? Because, 
Socrates answers, through ignorance men identify 
something with the good which is not the good. 
When they do wrong they are not doing it as wrong, 
but as good. No man wills evil.^ He is simply, in 

1 Mem. IV. vi. 2-4. - lb. iv. vi. 10, 11. 

3 Cf. H. Sidgwick, '' Ethics," Encjjc. Brit. viii. 577. 
* Protag. 358 B, C, D. 





doing wrong, a mistaken person, mistaken as to the 
means of his own happiness. ^ By the constitution of 
his being he must choose what is most desirable ; and 
it is ignorance only that prevents him seeing the 
supreme desirableness of virtue. He "needs must 
choose the highest when he sees it " ; but for lack of 
knowledge he does not see the highest, and in the 
blindness of ignorance chooses something that he 
mistakes for it. 

It is never clearly worked out what the good is 
which, intelligently or blindly, all men seek. Really 
the dominating element in the conception of the good 
is that of finality, something viewed as the rational 
end of action. That is to say, that in a complex unity, 
including pleasure, virtue, and knowledge, the intel- 
lectual element preponderates. Goodness in men 
results from and is exemplified by acts in conformity 
with rational ends. But can a rational end not be 
evil? Is all intelligence enlisted in the service of 
goodness ? Is it not possible to clearly conceive and 
work towards an end evil in itself and known to be 
evil? It is not, according to the view of Socrates, 
so possible. It is not that among intelligent ends 
some are good and some bad ; strictly speaking there 
can be no bad intelligent end. This is stated again 
and again, as in the Protagoras : ^ "No man voluntarily 
pursues evil, or that which he thinks to be evil. To 
prefer evil to good is not in human nature ; and when 
a man is compelled to choose one of two evils, no 
one will choose the greater when he may have 
the less." Whatever desires a man may cherish, 
they are really translatable into desire for the 

1 Gorgias, 466 D, E. 2 Protag, 353 C, D. 



supreme good. His nature is so constituted that it 
must follow what seems to him the preferable course 
out of whatever ways invite his entrance ; he cannot 
but wish his own greatest good. This, of course, did 
he but always know it, is identical with virtue, which 
is not a good relative to the individual only, but which 
is good now and for ever, in the particular circum- 
stances and universally, which is, shortly, the supreme 
good. But this coincidence of private and universal 
good in the supreme end, virtue, is not known to the 
unillumined, therefore he follows what he mistakes 
for his highest good; he confounds relative and 
momentary pleasure, contingent good with the good 
itself, which did he see he must follow. Hence the 
perpetual deceptions to which he falls a victim, a 
change of circumstances alone being required to change 
his fancied good into most real evil.^ The difference 
between the virtuous man and the wrong-doer is that 
one has enlightened desire and knows what he chooses ; 
the other is acting under a delusion, and confounds 
the momentarily pleasurable with usefulness and 
happiness. The end of such an examination of one's 
self, as Socrates desires to institute, is that men should 
come to know that what they are really seeking, under 
the varied forms which their pursuit of satisfaction 
takes, is the absolute good, and that they should come 
to seek this consciously. To know one's self is to 
understand the meaning of uninstructed desire. It 
is to cease to confound the momentarily agreeable 
with happiness; it is to translate the variety of 
human wishes into forms of search for the supreme 
end of lifeHAnd all that is needful to secure the 

J 1 Mem. IV. ii. 31-36. 






performance of virtuous acts is illumination. The best 
for each individual is the best for all, as justice ; some- 
thing that is capable of being the highest particular 
end while it is also universal. Ignorance of this, that 
the greatest good of the individual is just the good 
itself, is the cause of all evil. The sinner is mistaken 
in his instruments. He is seeking his own best good ; 
but, through the blindness of ignorance, identifies it 
with mere contingencies or real evils. He must wish 
his own greatest good, he must wish his own true 
happiness; this or that evil thing in his conduct is 
simply an instance of a false identification. His own 
greatest good is the absolute good, which is identical 
with virtue. This once seen, the same law that drives 
him to vice will drive him to virtue. What he lacks 
is light; to see is to obey. He has never yet been 
able to execute his own will. He has done evil not 
willing it as evil ; has willed crime and vice but not as 
crime and vice, but as necessary means to the end — 
his own good. He has done that which was right in 
his own eyes; but his eyes have really never been 
opened to know good and evil. He cannot really will 
evil, because he cannot will his own harm. His action 
resolves itself into an unenlightened choice of methods 
to attain the end which all necessarily pursue. As a 
matter of fact this end, the good which all blindly or 
consciously pursue, is really left without scientific 
definition. It seems to be, as has been said, that 
which is the object of rational action, which the means 
set in motion by the mind converge upon. The bottom 
thing in it is rationality. Evil action is not really 
rational. It is resolvable into ignorance. But there 
is thus a kind of mental see-saw produced. Goodness 




can only be set forth in terms of intellect, as that 
which the mind, once enlightened, inevitably chooses 
as the end of action. And knowledge can only be 
of the good. The things which men follow through 
passion, instinct, prejudice, or tradition, are not objects 
of knowledge, but of unpurified opinion. Into this 
conception, which Plato made his own, the Socratic 
conception inevitably passes. The good is that which 
the man whose mind is cleansed by dialectic and 
enlightened by knowledge seeks ; and true knowledge 
is the science of the good. ^ , 

The question of the essence of moral constraint is 
not closely and thoroughly dealt with. The good 
attracts. Ethical conduct is ''beautiful" conduct. 
The virtuous follow "whatsoever things are lovely, 
but the precise point of ethical pressure is shghtly 
handled. Socrates speaks, indeed, of the necessity 
which binds those who are enlightened in various 
places, but leaves the question of obligation unlaboured. 
He enlarges on the advantages of obedience to the 
laws, and goes so far as to identify personal justice 
with this legal obedience ; but it appears that behind 
this identification is an assumption of the authority 
of the divinity.! In this view righteousness becomes 
a much larger thing than legal obedience. It is 
assumed that the "unwritten laws" of which he 
speaks to Hippias are everywhere known. But it 
they represent eternal right, it is not made plain 
how the earthly laws are to become their transcript ; 
while yet, as is shown in the Crito,^ such reverence 
is due to these earthly laws as appears to involve 
quasi -divine sanction. Nevertheless, as was proved 
1 Mem. IV. iv. ' ^^■^'^^^ ^^ ^• 



in his actual experience, the claim to obedience rests 
ultimately on a consistency between the laws of man 
and the laws of God.^ Of this harmony in the last 
resort the individual conscience must be the judge. 
A subjective standard lifts itself up against the voice 
of the city. The final appeal is to the original ex- 
perience of the individual, working legitimately through 
the stages of the accepted morality as having a pre- 
scriptive relative claim on the life, until reflection and 
experience supply a new reading of the Divine Will. 

But while his moral authority runs back to the 
will of God, he finds a sufficient sanction within 
the facts of life for virtue. We cannot appeal to 
the language used in the Phcedo as expressing a 
tendency in his teaching to make action here de- 
pendent on issues beyond life. Historically, he con- 
sidered the present apparently as a system complete 
within itself so far as moral issues are concerned. 
The discussions raised and the teachings conveyed 
in the myths related concerning immortality must be 
regarded as Platonic developments of casual, or at least 
unsystematised, probable utterances. Limiting our- 
selves to Socratic matter in the sources, it is hardly 
possible to speak of these things as being more than 

The defect of the Socratic quality is in the ex- 
aggeration of the intellectual element in conduct. It 
amounts to confusion. For what is meant by " Virtue 
is knowledge" passes beyond the assertion of the 
need of knowledge for right action to the identifica- 
tion of the two things. Interest and happiness alike 
impel to the doing of the good by him who knows 

^ Apol. 29. 

1 84 


what it is. There is no such thing as a conflict of 
will and intelHgence. The human will in itself never 
errs ; but it is dependent on knowledge ; and it is to 
errors and imperfections in knowledge that the action 
ascribed to a vitiated will is due. As Fouillee ^ puts it : 
" The doctrine of Socrates comes to saying that man 
owes his vices to his imperfection, and his imperfection 
to his ignorance. His reason being merely pregnant 
with the truth which it encloses, in place of being a 
reason developed and capable of seeing all things, he 
does not know always the rational and absolute value 
of a thing or an act, and this ignorance or this error 
is the origin of his faults. To diminish it is to brmg 
him into relation with the sovereign good ; to make it 
entirely disappear would be to put him in possession 
of the very good identical with knowledge." Know- 
ledge is the sum and substance of ethics, the moral 
law and the prophets; ignorance is not, and cannot be, 


The intellectual genesis of this teaching is un- 
doubtedly to be found largely in the working out 
of accepted principles. Self-interest was universally 
accepted as the motive of action. It was also ad- 
mitted that virtue was the greatest interest of all. 
If, then, a man must follow his interest, it follows 
that when he knows virtue to be this interest he 
will be virtuous. It will be as natural as drinking 
when one is thirsty. Hence virtue is knowledge. 

There is thus an all but complete absence in the 
Socratic view of any consideration of the will. And 
here, undoubtedly, the personality of Socrates helps 
to decide the colour of his philosophy. Perfect health 

1 Socrate, i. 288, 289. 



consists, as nearly as possible, in the absence of all 
" false centres of sensibility " ; there is an exercise of 
function on the part of the various organs, so perfect 
as in many cases to be unconscious. It was very much 
so with the moral personality of Socrates.^ Whatever 
early struggles he may have known, at the time of 
his mission he appears before us as a man in whom 
habitual obedience to duty had become instinctive and 
immediate.^ It may seem an irony that the very one 
who was the means of making Greek virtue conscious, 
who denied the reality of unintelligent goodness, should 
be thus described ; but the fact is that he had travelled 
round to the goal of instinctive and immediate action 
by the path of reflection and conscious aim, until, 
without ceasing to be intelligent, moral action had 
ceased in him to know perplexity, wavering, and 
conflict. Before his judges he can assert that the 
knowledge of being in a wrong course will, as a 
matter of course, at once deter him from further 
continuance.^ He was able to say that to see with 
him was to act ; habitually and normally he was not 
disobedient to the heavenly vision of duty. 

How the doctrine, " Virtue is knowledge," failed to 
impress a practical mind, through its manifest ignoring 
of facts, is shown in the reply of Ischoinachus in the 
Economist^ (if we may take this as a Socratic dis- 
cussion), to the wonder expressed by Socrates at the 
universal knowledge of the principles of farming not 

^ Cf. the character reading of Zopyrus, Cic. Tusc. iv. 37, 80. 

- Autisthenes said : *' Virtue was of itself sufficient for happiness, and 
was in need of nothing except the strength of Socrates," Diog. Laert. 
VI. i. 11. 

3 A:pol. 26 A. * XX. 2 sq. 


1 86 


producing a greater equality of agricultural pros- 
perity. To his singular simplicity it seemed that 
knowledge must produce right action here, just as he 
believed it would in morals. But the practical farmer 
assigns the failures to carelessness and slackness in 
application, not to weakness in theory, and goes on 
to show how, in soldiership, many plain and universally 
recognised rules of warfare are simply neglected, not 
from want of wit and judgment, but of care and pains. 
Knowledge was not strong enough to overcome laziness 
or trust in good fortune. Men knew to do good and 

did it not. 

Plato, too, was dissatisfied with this standpoint from 
which virtue is intellectualised to a degree so strained 
and unnatural, and his departure from it is shown in 
various dialogues.^ With him virtue comes to be a 
harmony analogous to bodily health ; it resolves itself 
practically into that justice whose creation is "the 
institution of a natural order and government of one 
by another in the parts of the soul " ; - or the power 
of good retires " into the region of the beautiful ; for 
measure and symmetry are beauty and virtue all the 

world over." ^ 

Nor did the mind of Aristotle find the theory any 
more acceptable in its entirety. He considered that a 
nef^essary condition of virtue was confused with virtue 
itself.* And in the paraphrase called the Eudemian 
Ethics^ there is drawn out in addition the contrast 

1 Gonj. 504 ; Phcvdo, 69 C. 

2 Eep. iv. 444 D ; cf. iv. 443 C, D, E, etc. ^ Philebus, 64 E. 
^ Ethic. Nicovi. iii. 11. 1116&, 4, vi. 13. 1144&, 17-30 ; cf. Magn. Moral 

i. 1. 1182a, 15-23. 

5 Mh. End. i. 5. 1216&, 2-25 ; cf. iii. 1. 1229a, 15 ; 1230a, 7 ; vii. 13. 
1246&, 35; Magn. Moral, i. 1. 1183&, 8-18. 


between theoretical and applied sciences, showing that 
in questions of practice what we want is not to know, 
e.g., what bravery is, but to be brave ; nor what justice 
is, but to be just ; ^ which may be regarded as the sub- 
limated common sense of the question. He opposes 
the teaching that asserts that vice is involuntary, and 
that knowledge is virtue.^ However much a man's 
habits may supply him with motives, he is himself 
responsible for the formation of the character which 
decides his choice. His action cannot be reduced to 
the inevitable following of rational insight. His will 
is the expression of a personality which acts of choice 
have made. Neither, indeed, the average nor the 
philosophic mind has been able to accept the theory 
of Socrates as true to the examination of faculty or 
fact. As Thomson puts it, the " common sense of man- 
kind rebels " against the theory.^ 

The doctrine of Socrates appears thus, to a great 
extent, to ignore the value of the volitional and 
emotional life. It is not the case that moral action 
can be eviscerated of every element except the intel- 
lectual, and man reduced to a kind of volitionless 
impotence, drawn here and there by the sight of an 
end. The tragedies of moral life could reall}^ have no 
place if this view were true. It is not the case that 
men must follow what they believe to be best for 
themselves, however much it may have been a popular 
Greek belief. It is the case that they do often the 
very opposite. If rationality ruled, the analysis of 

^ Cf. k Kempis, De Tmitatione Christie i. 1. 3: " Opto magis seutire 
compunctionem qiiani scire ejus definitioneni." 

- Ethic. Nicom. iii. 7. 11136, 3 et seq. ; vii. 3. 11456, 21 sq. etc. 
^ Introductiou to Gorgias, p. viii. 



human action would be so much easier ; but it does 
not, and much that men do cannot be reduced to a 
system of intelligent motive. Socrates thought it 
could. Paul the saint and Horace the man of the 
world knew it could not. And this is a matter ulti- 
mately to be settled by the testimony of experience. 
It is certain that the theory of Socrates, whatever 
merit it possesses, is not wide enough to cover the 
facts of moral life. It assumes, contradictorily, the 
rationality of action that is elsewhere shown to be 
abnormal.^ The wrong-doer is a person acting strictly 
up to his light. He answers precisely to the ordinary 
conception of a virtuous man. He goes wrong for 
want of light only ; he cannot sin against it. Now it 
has been argued that the very conception of evil is 
that of something strictly incapable of being rational- 
ised, the element intractable to a perfect intellectual 
conception of things, the surd in human conduct ; that 
if men were always inclined to do what they knew to 
be best for them, then this account of human action 
given by Socrates might remain satisfying ; however 
impossible to reconcile with his other statements, all 
difference of moral conduct might be referable to dif- 
ferences of mental enlightenment ; but that if wrong- 
doing is essentially irrational, this theory breaks 
down, evil becomes reducible to moral insanity, and 
the action of the wrong-doer no more necessarily 
follows well-defined law than the caprices of a lunatic. 
All incipient sociologies may seem to be against this ; 
much moral evil may seem as orderly in its course as 
virtuous action. It springs up in certain sets of cir- 
cumstances; it has well understood antecedents and 

1 Mem. IV. V. 11. 



consequences; it may be within certain limits more 
capable of reduction to system than other matters 
about which we cherish no despondency of the ulti- 
mate victory of science. A prediction concerning the 
prevalence of crime within a certain period and over 
a defined area is more reliable than many weather 
forecasts. However this may be, and whatever hope 
we hold of reaching a perfect science of man, individ- 
ual and social, we can never get beyond the testimony 
of experience in our study of moral action, — and that 
testimony witnesses with the utmost clearness to the 
recognition by men of the better at the very moment 
that the}^ choose to follow the worse. They do not act 
rationally ; they do not do what they think best ; they 
are not true to themselves, but in spite of a knowledge 
that condemns their action they yield to the tempta- 
tion to do wrong. Socrates says no one does what 
he thinks evil to himself, and history and experience 
answer that men do it continually. Passage after 
passage can be quoted expressive of the conscious con- 
flict of desire and reason : 

..." Aliudque cupido 
Mens aliud suadet." 
(Desire counsels me in one direction, reason in an- 


..." Video meliora proboque 

Deteriora sequor." 

(I see the better part and approve it ; but I follow 

the worse.) 


^ This and the following sentences are quoted by Godet, Com. Rom. 
ii. 63. 






"Scibam ut esse me deceret, facere non quibam," 

(I knew what I ought to be, but unhappy that I am 

I could not do it.) 


(He who sins does not what he would, and does what 

he would not.) 


Paul's " To will is present with me, but how to per- 
form I find not," and many another. How reason can 
come to act irrationally no one has ever satisfactorily 
shown, yet the fact is certain ; and if men do not yield 
to the domination of an element really alien to their 
nature, they do so misuse that nature that, in full use of 
the light of reason, they act irrationally ; " the house 
of reason is divided against itself." A sinner uses his 
intellect to pursue his wrong aim, but it is a perver- 
sion, an unintellectual use. He is not himself. To 
come to one's self, to be normal, is to come to goodness. 
To repeat: On what principle human nature can be 
guilty of such irrationality as to decline the guidance 
of its highest interest, and how to reach a true philo- 
sophy of evil, are questions that still await solution. 
It was, doubtless, exceedingly tempting to suppose that 
knowledge was an all-i5ufficient principle of moral life, 
and that when the true end was seen, human nature 
moved towards it with the inevitability of mechanical 
law. But the matter is less simple. Socrates argued 
that the vision of virtue made men virtuous. Saints 
and sinners alike say that they agree with all he has 
to say about this vision of virtue, except with the one 

thing he most insists on, its power to secure its own 
fulfilment. Men like Paul say they have seen Virtue, 
have felt her authority and beauty, have recognised 
that it is their own interest to be her votaries, and 
have been unable to obey her call. It would be a bold 
thing to say to such spirits : " You have never seen 
Virtue at all, or the sight would have transformed 
you." The assumption is that men must obey their 
interest. If there were no deflection from the normal 
at the root of their nature, this might be so. But if 
there is such an abnormality, if the action of the 
wrong-doer in the last resort is the result of "the 
house of reason being divided against itself," a con- 
scious submission to that whicli contradicts knowledsfe, 
the theory is falsified. 

It is not possible to eviscerate all moral conflicts of 
their tragic meaning by denying, as Socrates did in all 
such cases, the fact of knowledge, reducing it to the 
illusion of opinion, and asserting that in fuller light 
the distracted mind would have seen the identity of 
the object of its desire with virtue, and have chosen 
virtue. The Socratic view of sin, in fact, keeps it in 
a region subliminal to knowledge. The sinner is never 
really more than an instinctive man, an undeveloped, 
irrational creature; strictly speaking, not a man at 
all. But the falsity here is in the denial of the 
reality of the most obvious thing in experience. As 
a matter of fact, a man does not sin with a section of 
his nature. If the question be whether he can do so 
in the region of the lower life — the answer is, that for 
man there is no pure and simple lower life at all. The 
whole question of wrong-doing involves the central 
personality. It is just knowledge that makes moral 



experience possible ; without it there is neither sin nor 
its possibility. So far, therefore, from it being a true 
account of evil to reduce it to ignorance, it rests on an 
inadequate conception of the nature of those acts of 
intemperance which, in the view of Socrates, make a 
man no better than the " silliest of cattle." ^ The real 
evil in ofFences against self-control is that the passions 
in man, to paraphrase a great living teacher, ^ are not 
simply irrational; they are not mere irruptions into 
the life of a rational being of elements from an alto- 
gether alien sphere, but they are activities of a self 
which, just because it is rational, can never in its 
yielding to evil be merely "simple, sensuous, and 
passionate." The light w^hich the sinner uses to tread 
the path of dalliance with evil is in itself divine, and 
he turns it to darkness. He uses his reason to sin 
against reason. And thus man's perversions can be- 
come monstrous and abnormal, because they are the 
acts of a creature who cannot but be complex in all 
he does ; w^hose simple physical acts are in a network 
of rational and moral relations, who can sin, e.g., by 
excessive or deficient rest or toil, or who can " eat and 
drink to the glory of God." 

The theory of Socrates, strictly interpreted, makes 
no allowance for incipient and progressive moral 
life. Strictly speaking, Socratic virtue can know no 
degrees. It cannot exist without knowledge ; but once 
knowledge is present, like Athena it springs into 
full-blown perfection of life. It knows no grades 
of semi -consciousness and imperfection. Man's one 

1 Mem. IV. V. 11. 

2 Cf. Caird, Evolution of Theol. in Gk. Phil. ii. 106, 112, on the Stoic 




prayer should be the prayer of Ajax for light. But 
light once given, he anticipates not death, but con- 
quest. Now, this is simply to shut out of view the 
larger part of the moral world. Insistence upon it 
reduces Socrates to a kind of moral Elijah, saying, " I 
only am left." As has been shown by the writer just 
quoted, the virtue of childhood and of most men is 
just this simple virtue of habit ^ which Socrates dis- 
allows.2 No doubt even the unconsciousness thus 
disallowed is only relative. Before the stage of moral 
manhood is reached, which can recognise no law but 
one self-imposed, there is a certain reaction of the 
mind on the standards to which it submits ; the mor- 
ality of the latter becomes touched with a spiritual 
element before it becomes characteristically spiritual. 
But this is nothing else than the germinal or growing 
presence of that element which Socrates seems to deny 
to all morality that is not fully reflective and con- 
scious. Ideal morality is, in a word, the only morality. 
Ethical character is to be denied ^ to every act not 
performed in the full light of perfect knowledge. So 
put, it is easy to feel the partial character of the view. 
Men did right before they could formulate a science 
of ethics, just as they spoke correctly before grammars 
were written. In some of his utterances Socrates 
seems conscious of this. If we might cite, e.g., the 
Meno on this point without passing beyond his his- 

1 Caird, Evolution of Theol. in Gk. Phil. i. 71 sq. Cf. also Zeller, 
Plato, 448 (Eng. trans.). 

2 It is admitted, e.g., in the Charmides that Charmides possesses 
the virtue of temperance, though neither he nor Socrates can define it 
satisfactorily (157 D, 175 D, E, 176 A), and its value is consequently 
depreciated as fugitive or unreal. 

3 Cf. Caird, op. cit. p. 73. 




toric opinions, it is shown there how dialectic releases 
from its mental swathings the truth involved in the 
common unconscious life, and makes it explicit.^ But 
here we are passing over into Platonism. 

The conclusion to which one is led is, that Socrates 
was so possessed by his main aim — to make morality 
reflective — that he could see nothing of value short of 
this, and could understand no imperfection if this were 
present. Knowledge is to him what love is to the 
Christian, " the fulfilling of the law." And it is as if 
one were to affirm the actual perfection of the life that 
loves because the seed of all perfection is present in it, 
and to deny all worth to the service of those from 
whom " perfect love " has not yet cast out fear. The 
expression of the discovery that for men the ultimate 
law was one within, took, inevitably, from the circum- 
stances of the time, and the mould of the thinkers' 
nature, an exaggerated intellectual form in the doctrine 
" virtue is knowledge." But this does not detract from 
the greatness of the service that gained so much of 
truth, by seizing on the condition of moral manhood, 
and turning men from prescription and convention to 
the reading of their own souls. 

^ Cf. Caird, 02\ cit. p. 100. 




Some indication must be given of the detailed working- 
out of the Socratic teaching in the various relations 
of life. The impression gathered from the discussion 
of his rationalistic basis of ethics may be, that the 
practical moral reformer and educator is hidden by the 
speculative thinker ; but to rest in this view would be 
wrong. The dialogues of search, no doubt, emphasise 
one side of his activities ; but there was another side 
presented to those who heard him, as Xenophon affirms 
he often did, discourse on the right attitude of the 
individual man to self, to others, and to God ; or who 
sought from him light and guidance in the particular 
exigencies of practical life. 

The Egoistic moral end. — And to begin with the 
self ; there is no duty on which Socrates has spoken 
worthier words than on that due consideration of one's 
self which we mean when we use the term self-respect. 
He declines, at his trial, to use the customary appeals 
of defendants, who, as he said to his judges, abase 
themselves unworthily to save their necks, " as if they 
would be deathless unless you slew them." ^ " For my 

1 Apol. 35 A. 



I ; 

own credit, and for your credit, and for the credit of 
our city, I do not think it well, at my age, and with my 
name, to do anything of that kind." ^ The hard thing is, 
not to escape death, this can often be done if a man will 
debase himself by playing the coward ; it is to escape sin. 
Wickedness is swift ; yet, caught by slow death, Socrates 
knows that he is saving his life, while his successful 
accusers have been overtaken by their swift pursuer.^ 

Closely connected with this reverence for the soul 
is the candour which marked him, and held a con- 
spicuous place in his counsels. No doubt there are 
times when a spirit of sophistry and contradiction 
manifests itself, — and in a kind of petulance he argues 
"for victory," or even against his own frequently 
expressed views ; as when, with Nicomachides, the dis- 
appointed soldier, who as candidate for the post of 
general has been passed over in favour of an inex- 
perienced man of wealth, he argues against his own 
favourite doctrine of committing matters to the expert, 
and for the adaptability of talent. Still, in practice as 
in teaching, he stands out as a lover and servant of 
truth. He desires to be faithful to the argument, no 
matter whither it may lead. He is able to say to his 
opponents in discussion : " I am a fellow -searcher with 
you all, insomuch that if there seems to be anything 
in what my opponent says, I shall be the first to yield 
the point. . . . And if you refute me, I shall not get 
vexed with you as you do with me, but shall set you 
down as my greatest benefactor." ^ This is characteris- 
tic. Truth is the greatest good. Untruth means confu- 
sion and hurt to the soul. And the man who reverences 
the soul, the divine within himself, will follow truth. 

1 A2)ol. 34 E (Church). 2 jj, 39 ^^ g^ s Gorgias, 506 A, C. 


This self-reverence, which involves reverence for 
truth, dwells hard by self-control. TTp pr panh^d t}ift 
stem iov of mast ery over everything that might be 
an entanglement or hindrance to the mind. Temper- 
jinee was indispensable i6 f l-^ fl^iki^'^.Suiik m pleasures. 
men could neither see nor follow virtue. Th e_disorder 
in their life spranoj from the confu^u of tlie ir inner 
nature; and this, again, was iiicrea&ad-A^d^intensifijd^ 
'bvhitgpaperate acts. In various passages, of which 
use has already been made, this disorder and its moral 
effects have been described.^ Temperance sets free the 
mind for the pursuit of wisdom ; it secures the highest 
pleasures ; it is the foundation of capacity of all worthy 
kinds. It is the " best thing a man can have," and he 
who is without it has " no concern at all with virtue." 
At times, Socrates speaks as if mere abstinence were 
admirable ; ^ but this is in the midst of a defence of his 
course of life to Antiphon, which becomes a polemic 
against luxury; the normal ideal toward which he 
directs men is mastery, sitting light to things, " using 
the world as not abusing it." He claims and proves 
that he can enjoy the pleasures of life as much as any- 
one, but they never hold him. Napoleon's advice to 
his brother Joseph was, " I have but one word to say 
to you, Be master." It was this counsel that Socrates 
anticipated. He could not control the solicitation or 
impact of circumstance, but he did control his own 
response and reaction. He was in his world ; yet never 
merely of it, but above it.^ He " considered the end," 
and took whole views of life.* 

1 Xen., Mem. iv. v. 6, 11, etc. ^ 7^. i. vi. 10. 

3 lb. IV. V. ; I. V. vi. etc. ; cf. pictures in the two Symjmia. 
* lb. II. i. 34. 




In this connection it must be said that from un- 
guarded expressions, inferences that are unwarranted 
with reference to the personal character of Socrates 
have been drawTi. These aspersions have been already- 
touched upon, and here it can only be said that it is 
vain, once for all, to seek in the Athens of the fifth 
century B.C. the conception of physical holiness that 
belongs to Christianity. As regards his own life, no 
charge of moral evil can be sustained. If there was 
one thing more than another that impressed his com- 
panions, it was his inaccessibility to the coarser tempta- 
tions of Greek life. But when this is said, the fact 
remains that both he and his disciple Plato allowed 
themselves a liberty of speech, jesting, satirical, or 
illustrative, touching the moral pestilence of the time 
that in that age led in some instances to a supposition 
that vice was regarded with levity; and that in a 
Christian age, to use Mr. Murray's expression, " gives 
most modern readers a cold turn." There was no 
manifest shrinking at mention of sin. There was 
strenuous effort, by the use of every weapon in the 
philosophic armoury, to turn men to the nobleness of 
a spiritual passion for truth, and love for its seekers. 
Yet there was for the hardness of the Athenian heart 
a laxity in the standard erected, and it was the peril 
and attendant harms of wrong-doing that were dwelt 
on rather than its essential guilt. It was an imprudent 
thing; it argued a low mind; it involved men in 
humiliating and degrading situations. The Greek 
ideal, in a word, is one thing, and Christian purity 

Self-knowledge wrought in this Greek teacher the 
non-Greek virtue of humility. It is in the intellectual 



region that its manifestations appear ; in the constant 
confessions of ignorance accompanying the strenuous 
demand for science as the only way to virtue. In the 
conversations reported by Xenophon this mood is not 
marked. There is a kind of oracular sureness rather 
noticeable which, in its unqualified form, we cannot 
but feel to be most unlike the Socrates of the dialogues 
of search. Each attitude has doubtless its relative 
justification. One painting is of the philosopher 
earnestly seeking the scientific basis of morals; the 
other, the moral reformer and teacher dealing with 
practical problems. In any case, the expression of 
the mood of self-depreciation takes an intellectual 
cast. He would not have admitted that he had not 
done his duty as a soldier when called upon ; on the 
contrary, before his judges he refers to his services 
with the consciousness of having deserved well of 
his country ; yet, when it is a question of discover- 
ing what courage is, without which knowledge, on his 
own philosophic principles, a man cannot be brave, 
he confesses failure.^ Elsewhere, he is more con- 
vinced and more confident. But of mental limita- 
tion and error complaint is often elicited. " I know 
very well that I am not wise, even in the smallest 
degree " 2 is his remark on learning the famous answer 
of the' oracle about himself ; and after the experience 
of a life spent in the search for truth he says, "I 
believe that only God is really wise : and that by this 
oracle he meant that men's wisdom is worth little or 
nothing. I do not think that he meant that Socrates 
was wise. He only made use of my name, and took 
me as an example, as though he would say to men, 

1 Laches, 199 E. ' ^l^oL 21 B (Church). 



' He among you is the wisest who, like Socrates, 
knows that in very truth his wisdom is worth nothing 

at all/ " 1 

But no consciousness of ignorance or failure, at 
other times and in other acts, prevented the strongest 
perseverance in the course that appeared right to 
Socrates. He was at any moment prepared to stand 
against the mass of his fellows, if he saw his own 
path clearly. Instances of such independent action 
have been cited, such as the trial of the generals after 
Ardnusae,^ the arrest of Leon of Salamis;^ and the 
supreme instance of his unconquerable courage at his 
trial, when he declares that nothing will induce him 
to depart from his life-mission of instructing his 
countrymen, choosing to obey God rather than men, 
is familiar to everybody. These acts were simply 
embodiments of principles taught throughout a life.* 
The number of those who held an opinion did not 
make it more respectable in his eyes. Nor when a 
course of action was suggested to him by friends, did 
his regard for the speakers influence his decision. It 
w^as harder to resist friends than enemies, perhaps, yet 
he resisted them, if their counsel seemed unworthy,^ 
as when he declined their help to escape, referring 
Crito to the decision, not of the mob, but of the 
expert in justice, and declaring that for himself the 
voice of the laws, to which he owed so much, drowned 
all other pleadings. 

Society as a moral end. — The strength of right- 
eous self-assertion, the proved capacity for the per- 

1 j4pol. 23 A, B (Church). 

3 Apol. 32 C. 

5 Crito 48 A, 5i D. 

2 Xen., Mem. i. i. 18 ; iv. iv. 2. 
* Xen., Mem. iv. vii. 1. 



formance of a lonely task, characteristic of Socrates, 
did not spring from lack of estimation of the value of 
human relationships, natural or conventional. One's 
kinsfolk, one's friends, and one's city are ends and means 
at once of virtuous life. It is not in severance of these 
ties that the man who follows goodness will find the 
object of his quest, but in finding and realising their 
true significance. Filial piety not only has its place 
among the unwritten laws which all men recognise,^ 
but it is one of those things in dealing with which the 
coincidence of human law with the divine (which is 
the assumption of the discussion with Hippias) is 


Brotherly afl*ection, too, is prescribed in the very 
fact of the natural relationship ; reciprocal service and 
helpfulness belong to it as surely as to the hands and 
feet and eyes of a man. The "natural craving and 
sympathy " between creatures reared together is to be 
made the basis of a union rich in mutual advantage. 
Socrates wants the natural relationship to be spiritual- 
ised by being made the basis of friendship and afiec- 
tion, fed by a sense in each of the worth of the other,^ 
and the value of the union. 

His general position with reference to the question 
of woman's capacity and claims, and to a much less 
degree his ideas on marriage, were in advance of his 
time. Whatever importance we attach to statements 
of his personal indebtedness to Aspasia* and Diotima^ 
as his teachers, it is tolerably clear that his matri- 
monial experiences had not affected the disinterested- 
ness of his speculations on the subject. He sustained 

^ Xen., Mem. iv. iv. 20. 
4 Plato, Mcnex. 235 E. 

2 lb. II. ii. 13, 14. 3 lb. II. iii. 

5 SijmiJ. 201 D ; Xen., iMem. ii. vi. 36. 



the thesis of woman's great capacity to acquire even 
physical accomplishments, making the somewhat ex- 
tensive reservation that all she wants is strength and 
judgment.! And in capability of culture we may per- 
haps, with justice, regard even the education prescribed 
for women in the Republic as the result of a genuinely 
Socratic theory working in the mind of Plato, and 
wrought out into details sujfficiently remote from the 
original germ, but in conformity with the general 
scheme of his ideal State.2 Such inferiority as attaches 
to women is limited to physical strength and intellect,^ 
and does not affect her moral capacity, although Plato 
in his later writing carries it into this also. Never- 
theless, for Socrates the congenial sphere of woman 
remained ordinarily the home ; the late Platonic de- 
velopments of the question are alien to the domestic 
framework of the Economist (e.g.), in which a pleasing 
picture of a Greek home is drawn, which yet does not 
pass beyond strictly conventional limits for its assumed 
unusual success and happiness.^ Its unconventionality 
is in the perfect sympathy between husband and wife 
in the management of their affairs, in helpful division 
of labour, in constancy of affection, and advance 
in personal worth.^ The Xenophontic rather than 
Socratic character of much of the Economist need 
not prevent the acceptance of this picture as repre- 
senting the narrowest view, possibly, of the Socratic 
position on this matter. The wife of Ischomachus is 
essentially a child trained by him, and becoming under 

^ Xen., Symp. ii. 9. 

2 Plato, Rep. V. 451 sq. ; cf. Protacj. 342 D. 

3 Xen., (Ec(yii. iii. 11-16 ; Symp. ii. 12. 

■* (EcoYb, vii.-x. ** lb. vii. 42. 



the training a brisk manager while retaining a con- 
stant affection for her teacher, a dependent woman 
with an infusion of intelligence. The joys of home 
which Ischomachus possessed so fully did not fall to 
the lot of Socrates ; nor was he himself a domesticated 
person. This was one of the subjects on which his 
teaching was perhaps more purely theoretical than 
others. The banter of Antisthenes as to the scope for 
experiment in education at home is not quite success- 
fully turned ; ^ and one cannot imagine Socrates and 
Xanthippe in the respective parts of Ischomachus and 
his docile child- wife. Yet, however little he may have 
been able to exemplify his theories, from his doctrine 
of knowledge as that which gave moral substance to a 
life, it is impossible but that his view of woman should 
have departed from current ideas. 

One of the great services Socrates rendered to his 
age was to teach the consecration of companionship. 
His disciples were friends who joined him in his pur- 
suit of truth, and he himself had a genius for friend- 
ship.2 It is a little difficult to conciliate with the 
purely intellectual conception of virtue the importance 
in practice attached to the association of friends in 
that philosophic study which is to issue in virtuous 
attainment. It may even be regarded as the practical 
corrective of a too abstract theory ; a concession made 
to the emotional life. True friendship he regarded as 
a treasure,=^ although, according to the Lysis, professing 
himself unable to define it. He is disposed to listen to 
the poets, who assert that it is " God Himself who 
makes men friends by leading them one to another." * 

^ Xen., Symp. ii. 10. 
3 lb. 212 A. 

2 Plato, Lysis, 211 E. 
4 lb, 214 A (Wright). 



He is perplexed by the mystery of affinities, and is 
obliged to leave the problem unsolved; although a 
concrete instance of friendship is before him in Lysis 
and Menexenus, as there is of temperance in the case 

of Charmides. 

The theme is pursued farther in the Phcedrus and 
Symposium, but in poetic and mystic fashion, so that 
we cannot tell how much of the real Socrates appears. 
In Xenophon, the utterances regarding friendship are 
of a hortatory and practical character. For him, friend- 
ship is at once a pledge to pursue the highest things, 
an instrument of attaining them, and the reward of 
the pursuit. The charm a man must use to win a true 
friend must be the charm with which the great men of 
Athens w^on the attachment of the city, service.^ If 
we w^ant good friends, we ourselves must be persons 
worthy of friendship. 

" * You would imply, Socrates, would you not,' says 
Critobulus, ' that if we want to win the love of any 
good man, we need to be good ourselves in speech and 
action ? ' 

" ' And did you imagine that it was possible for a 
bad man to make good friends ? ' " 

It is " the elite of human kind " that true friendship 
unites. They are prepared to share their possessions ; 
they are peacemakers, self -restrained, devoid of envy,^ 
ready to render service; they rejoice in the good deeds 
of their friends, and in their prosperity, as much as 
in their own ; they consider manly qualities to consist 
in being able to " excel friends in kindness and foes 
in hostility." 3 If Socrates is to introduce his friend 



^ Xen., Mem. 11. vi. 13. 

3 lb. II. vi. 35; cf. ib. 11. i. 19. 

2 Ib. II. vi. 22 sq. 

Critobulus to anyone who is a desirable person to 
know and to have for a friend, he will not " forge 
any pretty fiction for his benefit." There is only one 
solid ground to build on in the making of friendships 
or moulding a career : " In whatsoever you desire to he 
esteemed good, endeavour to he good." ^ A man ought 
to ask himself, " What, after all, may I chance to be 
worth to my friends? "^ Socrates' own exemplifica- 
tion of his principles is shown in practical counsel in 
various exigencies.^ 

There is something a little prosaic, perhaps, in the 
pictures of friendship painted by Socrates. Its ser- 
vices, its practical benefits in times of trouble, its aid 
in political careers, its stimulus in personal achieve- 
ment and the upbuilding of character, are much dwelt 
on. The arguments seem to lack "a gracious some- 
what." No genuine friendship is cemented merely by 
such considerations. It begins in trivial incidents 
sometimes; for reasons that defy analysis. It is a 
thing born of a monition, an inspiration. Its continu- 
ance is not a question of a superior order of barter. 
The great instances of friendship are, in many cases, 
unions of opposites. Men have followed different 
factions in politics, have fought under different stand- 
ards even, without ceasing to be friends. And under 
the same flag differences can be wide without dis- 
loyalty. A Cimourdain can condemn a Gauvain, and 
can die with him as easily as he could have died for 
him. But the supreme service is a personal offering, 
as it is the supreme attraction. The cause and end of 
friendship are in the personalities, and not in acts or 
services so much, as separable from these. "I will 

1 lb. II. vi. 38. 

* lb. II. V. 4. 

3 Jb. II. vii. viii. ix. x. 



receive from " my friends " not what they have, but 
what they are." Yet it is in the enrichment fellow- 
ship between the worthy carries that friendship finds 
its justification. And it may well be that forms of 
expression rather than the essential thought are to 
blame for the remoteness of some of the Socratic 
maxims from modern feeling. Men read new mean- 
ings in the word " virtue " ; but when the expanded 
ideal is allowed for, it is this translation of communion 
into character that is the Socratic thought.^ 

A wider circle embraces the community. So much 
has been said on this incidentally to other matters that 
the less is necessary here. It was the peculiarity of 
the emphasis Socrates was bound by the nature of his 
philosophy to lay on individual reflection, that he 
must appear a nonconformist in the Greek State. He 
accepted the State as having a claim upon his service, 
very wide and deep ; but ultimately that claim must be 
submitted to a subjective standard of reference ; it 
must justify itself before the inner court. Reflection 
must play upon the sacred demand of a Greek State 
upon the obedience of its citizens. Yet only in the 
name of that which requires absolute obedience, the 
voice of God, did even Socrates think of disputing the 
deliberate collective will expressed in the institutions 
of his native city. Every claim to obedience, that is 
to say, but the highest, belonged to Athens ; and even 
the highest itself, in the absence of that intuition in 
which the Divine Will became clear to him as opposed 
to the State's command ; for in the Crito the voice of 
God and the voice of the Laws are one. Ordinarily the 
claim of the State is recognised and met by Socrates 

1 Symp. viii. 10-14. 



with loyal obedience. He accepts that message of the 
personified Laws that places their own worth and 
sacredness before that honour which is due to parents 
or ancc tors; reverence and full submission to all pre- 
scribed service or suflfering must be paid to them, or 
their commands must be shown to be unjust.^ He 
does not suppose himself able to lead his country to a 
higher level of life save by faithfully fulfilling all 
relative claims. He has a conception in his mind of a 
State in which each man contributes to the common 
good, and living in it, " finds himself " in the larger life 
of his city. The trouble is often that political elections 
to office are made on the principle of the choice of the 
trees : they fail to secure the olive, the vine, or the fig- 
tree, and end by petitioning for the thorn to be their 
ruler; and the issue is destruction. To Socrates it 
seemed often that the best hung back from political 
life, or were passed over. And so he made it his busi- 
ness, while restraining some, to incite others to enter 
the arena. As he said to Charmides : ^ " Success in the 
sphere of politics means that not only the mass of our 
fellow-citizens, but your personal friends, and you 
yourself, last but not least, will profit by your action." 
If his ordinary service to the State (for he distinctly 
regarded his teaching mission as such) was rather that 
of the candid critic and faithful friend, not afraid to 
wound, than that of the active politician, it must be 
remembered that while " he took no part in public 
life," such duties as fell upon him were discharged 
with the utmost devotion.^ And so long as he spent 
his time training the minds of men, many of whom 
might fill offices of State, he considered that he was 

^ Crito, 51. 

2 Xen., Mem. in. vii. 9. 

3 Apol. 28, 32. 




not himself open to the charge which he brought 
against his friend Charmides of neglecting the post 
of civic duty.^ 

In dealing with the trial and death of Socrates it 
will be necessary to show how his philosophic theories 
contained from the first the germ of opposition to the 
State which ended in his death. Here it is only need- 
ful to say that his general loyalty did not exclude, but 
in his own view demanded the freest criticism of the 
ordinary Athenian political methods. All improvements 
were incidental to the one reform of true education for 
men, leading them to right conceptions, and conse- 
quently, in his view, right practice,^ in all the aspects 
and fields of operation of virtue. But such an under- 
standing of the State's radical need of people with a 
changed outlook and a new disposition would be fol- 
lowed by very radical changes of method. In some 
passages ^ changes of military policy are even suggested, 
though here one cannot be sure that it is not the cavalry 
ofiicer Xenophon who is speaking; but, constantly, 
changed methods are in view. The idea of Socrates 
is that government is a craft and mystery to be exer- 
cised by the expert, meaning by that one morally as 
well as mentally fit for rule.* The constant theme 
of his discourses is the absurdity of men consentino- 
to be ruled, or taking part in ruling, without expert 
knowledge, when the man who claimed to practise 
or teach the art of the lute-player or the physician 

1 Gorgias, 521 D. 2 teller, Socrates, p. 169. 

2 Xen., Mem. iii. iii. 14 ; iir. v. 14, 25-28. 

^ Cf. Zeller, loc. cit. ; Xen., Mem. iii. vi. 16-18 ; Plato, Apol. 36 C ; 
Syinp. 216 A, etc. Knowledge, of course, in the full sense, carries 
both qualifications in itself. 



without this knowledge would be scouted as a quack. 
In practice, this theory tended to work out towards 
oligarchy,^ which Socrates doubtless meant to be a 
kind of cultured Whiggism ; whereas the oligarchies, 
which from time to time obtained power in Greek 
cities that, like Athens, were ordinarily democratic, 
were not composed of experts in governing, of the most 
capable students of politics, but simply of some of the 
most influential and wealthy citizens who in a crisis 
could grasp the reins of power. Theories are apt to 
take embodiments that are startling to their originators, 
and in some dim way the democratic citizens of Athens 
seemed to see in these ideas of Socrates the intellectual 
seed of oligarchical revolution. Whatever their philo- 
sophical claims, they pointed pretty plainly to sweeping 
changes if adopted by any considerable number of 
able men. All Xenophon's minimising of the philo- 
sophic originality of Socrates, by presenting him 
mainly in the role of moralist and preacher, quite 
fails to disguise this radical principle, that the State 
and everything else which claims a man's devotion 
must submit to a process of subjective criticism. In 
the last resort a man's inner judgment is to carry the 
day over every other law. No law, that is, is law to 
him until it has received the ratification of the mind. 
He will not actively resist ; he will not evade penalty 
by flight; but he will refuse to obey. He will find 
in this passive resistance a method of meeting the 
relative claim of the city and the absolute claim of 

Various attempts have been made to vindicate for 
Socrates a general ethical doctrine of humanity, and 

^ Forchhammer. 



to make him anticipate Stoic universalism. It is, 
perhaps, passing somewhat beyond what the sources 
warrant to say that "he saw above the State the 
great human family of which the city is merely the 
picture in little," or, to speak without qualification, of 
him " recognising himself as a citizen of the world." ^ 
It is nearer the truth to say that ordinarily it is the 
moral world of the Greek State that lies within his 
purview. His principles would have carried him 
beyond this limit had they been logically wrought 
out; for the basing of virtue on knowledge involves 
the capacity of virtue wherever reason is present, and 
to the moral manhood thus created the rights and 
privileges of men could not have been denied. A 
certain consciousness of this seems to colour his allu- 
sions to slavery. The slavish spirit in itself constitutes, 
indeed, the antithesis of all nobility, and is with him 
a usual term of condemnation. And the ordinary 
acquisition, disposal, and discipline 2 of slaves is alluded 
to by him without comment or exception. Nor does 
the customary tone repel him.s But yet towards the 
slave a note of humaneness appears; he shows them 
as possessing qualities which if they can exhibit, much 
more ought the freeman to possess, or manifesting 
faults which in their owners are still more blame- 
worthy.4 Xenophon represents him in the Economist 
as approving the system of promotion by merit and 
stimulus by reward adopted by Ischomachus on his 
farm,5 where he intrusts responsibility to men thus 

^ Faure, La Morale de Socrate, p. 247. 

^ Xen., Mem. 11. i. 15, 16, cf. 11. iv. 1-3, 5. 

3 Ih. II. vii. 3, 4 ; cf. II. X. 2, 3. ^ j^^ jjj^ xiii. 3, 4, 6. 

^ (Ecrni. xii. 5 sq. 


21 1 

selected ; and in cases where he finds that trust hon- 
oured, treats his slaves like men.i It is a mistake to 
say that " in the Republic Socrates suppresses slavery 
without saying anything " ; 2 for, first, in the Republic, 
as Jowett^ says, "The citizens, as in other Hellenic 
States, are really an upper class; for although no 
mention is made of slaves, the lower classes are allowed 
to fade away into the distance, and are represented in 
the individual by the passions." And, secondly, if it 
were true, the emancipator would not be Socrates 
but Plato. 

1 (Ecoii. xiv. 10. 2 Fouillee, o^j. cit. ii. 55. 

3 Dialogues of Plato, iii. clxxii. Cf. Grant, Greece in the Age of 
Pericles, p. 221. 




By the testimony of his principal disciples, the whole 
life of Socrates was pervaded by the thaught of God. 
And the unity of that life cannot be legitimately 
broken up. Its ethics were not separate from its 
religion. A moral duty, finding reward in its own 
fulfilment, found a religious sanction. An act of 
wrong, while sinning against self-avenging laws, was 
an act of impiety. Socrates would not have under- 
stood anyone treating him as an independent moralist. 
His religion was moral (as much Greek religion was 
not), and his morality religious. It was the sane 
religion of one who had found a faith that could bear 
the examination of his mind. For purposes of orderly 
treatment it is needful to separate the handling of his 
religious belief and practice from his ethics, but it is 
under the proviso laid down. His doctrine of God and 
man, and their relations, the life springing out of these 
relations, and the question of its perpetuity, fall to be 

A man of faith has a religion before he has a reasoned 
theologj^ ; and so, no doubt, had Socrates. But as he 
comes before us, it is as one who has reasoned and 




wrought his way to a rational creed. Two things were 
united in him, a speculative intellect and a nature 
responsive to moral claims. The activity of his mind, 
playing upon the popular creed, secured his liberation 
from it, and fashioned for him certain elements of a 
new and more spiritual faith : and by the loyalty with 
which he practised every duty deduced from his purified 
creed, his religious life grew into a fabric of simple but 
solid structure, which no storm of doubt or temptation 
was able to overturn. This was not a temperamental 
result, though some of his own contemporaries seem to 
have confounded resignation with natural placidity.^ 
It was not because, like Bunyan's rather unsympathetic 
friend who could not helpfully counsel the dreamer, 
he was "a stranger to much conflict with the devil," 
for there was a passionate nature in Socrates, but 
because his nature was reined and subdued by the 
power of a faith that was not at odds with reason. 
It is needful to inquire, then, how far he had dis- 
entangled himself from the common beliefs of the 
Greek religion, whose customs he still followed, and 
whose language he continued, if in a spirit of accom- 
modation, still to use. Xenophon is careful to impress 
his use of sacrifice and divination upon us, and dwells 
also upon the character of his prayers. If Socrates 
was a Luther in insisting upon putting his own in- 
terpretation upon the facts of religion, in thrusting 
men back upon original experience, he was an Erasmus 
in reforming from within. He had no ambition to 
start a new sect. He had a true desire to reform 
Greek religion. Whether his ideas involved revolu- 

* Crito, 43 : "1 have been wondering to see how sweetly you sleep." 
Crito to Socrates a day or two before his death. 



tion or not will appear. Sometimes he seems to dwell 
within old limits almost with contentment ; he speaks 
the language and uses the practices of his fellow- 
worshippers; yet examination shows us that he does 
all with a difference. It is true that he sometimes 
spoke of "the gods"; he approved the practice of 
divination ; he offered sacrifice publicly and privately, 
and prayed to the gods, as Xenophon, who labours 
to prove his orthodoxy, is careful to show ; yet neither 
his belief in the Deity, nor his reverence for oracles, 
nor his observance of sacrifice and prayer, meant to 
him what such a thing meant to an ordinary Greek. 

Certainly his language concerning these matters 
w^as not, in the letter, consistent. Sometimes he was 
loose and unscientific ; ^ and sometimes, with a popular 
use of terms for the Deity, in the same connection 
occurs a more exact use implying unity.^ Sometimes 
he uses a word like the Godhead,^ in which an abstrac- 
tion becomes concrete, and again he uses the singular 
" God," ^ or a singular term to describe God.^ But it 
is when we come to the meanins: he assisrns to such 
terms, his notion of the attributes and activities of 
the Divine Being, whether uttered in terms of plurality 
or unity, that his separation from current polytheism 
is seen. He rejects as incredible the stories of blood 
and lust and deceit with which Greek mythology was 
disfigured ; no authority of orthodoxy or tradition will 

^ Xen., Mem. i. i. 9 ; i. iii. 3 ; IV. iii. 13, etc. 

2 lb. I. iv. 16-18 ; i. iv. 5, 15, 16. 

3 lb. I. vi. 10. 4 lb. IV. viii. 6 ; Ajwl. 5, 7. 

^ lb. n^ iii. 13. Dakjns' note gives " co-ordinator and container of 
the universe," iii., pt. i. 151. The passage accepts a distinction between 
the Supreme Ruler and inferior deities ; but see Gilbert's note in his Edn. 
Xen., Comm. Free/. Crit. p. Ixiii. 



suffice to secure credit for them, although he jestingly 
says that if Euthyphron accepts them, he supposes 
that he must needs give way.^ This is a feature not 
brought forward by Xenophon, but seen plainly in 
the Socratic dialogues of Plato. He believes God to 
be unchangeably good, and stories inconsistent with 
this are ugly lies. Yet he seems to accept lower 
divinities who minister to men of their bounty, and 
who, like the Supreme Ruler, are seen only in their 
working.2 ^^d perhaps the difficulty of uniting this 
idea with the unity of the Supreme Being is one for 
us rather than for Socrates. His thought is not so 
strictly personalised. The Supreme Reason manifests 
himself in the world,. and particularly in men, and may 
be conceived as dwelling also in beings wiser and more 
powerful than men. And still it is not mere imper- 
sonal diffusion. There is a central Divine Life in 
whom all things "lovely and of good report" live, 
who upholds all things, and by whom all things sub- 
sist.3 In all this, if there was an attitude of conformity 
in some measure to established belief, the personal 
judgment was preserved intact; the interpretation was 
subjective, and belief in God was sustained by rational 
reasons; a process which made Socrates a dangerous 
friend to orthodox Greek religion. 

His reasoning on the being of God, his relations 
to men, and the maintenance of these relations in 
conscious activity through human service, all proceeded 

1 Plato, Euthyphron, 6 A, B ; of. Rcpub. ii. 377 E sq., 408 C, Symp. 

195 C. 

2 Xen., Mem. iv. iii. 13 ; cf. Plato, Apol. 26 C sq. This passage seems 
to have in it a casuistical element. Phxdo, 63 C ; Euthyphron, 14 E, 15. 

3 Xen., ib. 




on a practical ignoring of tradition and authority. 
Through whatever puerilities of illustration or imper- 
fectly welded links of reasoning, the rational character 
of the process was maintained. He is the father of 
the Design Argument, that proceeds from order in the 
world and in the physical and mental organism of 
man to a Supernal Reason. It has been obscured of 
late, but a form of reasoning that appealed to minds 
for two thousand years, from Socrates to Mill, 
possesses some claim to consideration. In his view 
the whole world of things, " enormous in size, infinite 
in number," owes its existence and plan to mind.^ 
And the order read there is no less easy to discern 
in the make of man. His body is a system of con- 
trivances, bespeaking utility and delight as ends.^ 
Sight, smell, the protective arrangements of the organs, 
their relative positions in the body, the maternal in- 
stinct, and articulate speech, are among the evidences 
adduced. Some of his illustrations are sufficiently 
trivial, but the principle of finality is consistently 
followed. And, coming to mind, its very presence in 
man furnishes, in the view of Socrates, proof of the 
presence of God in the universe. For as the body 
contains " a tiny fragment " of the elements, so mind is, 
in his view, a spark of the wisdom ^ that is immanent 
in the universe. This mind specialises into a capability 
of communion with the divine in worship and service.* 
It looks " before and after " ; it takes precautions to 
supply man's need ; it can learn and " garner in the 
storehouse of memory all that man has heard or seen 

^ Xen., Mem. i. 4. 8 ; cf. iv. iii. 

2 Ih. I. iv. 5-7, 11, 12 ; iv. iii. 11. 

2 Ih. I. iv. 8. ^ lb. I. iv. 13 ; cf. iv. iii. 12. 





or understood." ^ Man's organs, in a word, mental and 
bodily, carry within themselves a reason of their being ; 
but the securing of the end of the right performance 
of the function of each is itself an instrument towards 
the higher end of the preservation and perpetuation 
of life which, ministered to by natural beings and 
aorencies, each of which is also an end and an instru- 
ment, finds its purpose realised in the service of virtue, 
the doinof of the will of God. 

That examination of the world which revealed w^hat 
seemed to him evidences of purpose in its framing, and 
caused him to regard it as the "handiwork of some 
wise artificer," made its economy wear the aspect of 
providence towards men. He found a continuous 
adjustment of relations between man and his circum- 
stances. To him the powers of nature appeared not 
only to fulfil admirably the function proclaimed in 
their make and constitution, but those ends became 
admirable means to serve and delight mankind, and 
to enable it to attain the ends of its existence. He 
finds a general providence in light and food, water 
and fire, the adaptation of the seasons to earth's fruit- 
fulness and man's health, the subservience of the 
animals to man's use, and the way in which to the 
action of reason each thing parts with its secret of 
blessing.- And the special exigencies of life in which 
human foresight would fail, the gods meet by their 
responses to the inquiries of their worshippers. 

The evolutionary conception that, in connection with 
the idea of the immanence of God, rules modern think- 
ing on these subjects, makes minds to-day sensitive to 
the triviality mingled with all this reasoning. The 

^ Xen., Mem. i. iv. 13. 

2 lb. IV. iii. 3-12. 



examples cited by Socrates are, in some instances, 
almost worthy to be compared with Bernardin de 
Saint Pierre's theory as to the melon, which is quoted 
by M. Janet.^ It was "that the melon has been 
divided into sections by nature for family eating; 
the pumpkin, being larger, can be eaten with one's 
neighbours." These things represent the reductio ad 
absurd wni of the doctrine of extrinsic final causes. 
The doctrine of intrinsic final cause, the purpose re- 
vealed in fitness for function, remained untouched by 
the dispersal of such puerilities. But a mode of 
thought, already obsolete, appeared in the flush of 
the evolutionary advance, which was hostile even to 
the recognition of design as shown in arrangement 
and fitness within organs themselves. It was con- 
tended (e.g.) that the eye was not made for seeing 
on an intelligent plan from the outset, but by a system 
of trial and experiment in which Nature was uncon- 
sciously working her way to an end never intelligently 
conceived and often only imperfectly attained; an 
objection gaining its principal force from a lingering 
conception of power working upon an undivine and 
essentially separate universe from the outside. This 
theory of blind achievement meeting the contention 
of the design argument with a denial of its main 
assumption, which is that order implies intelligence, 
has itself given way to a new and more fruitful view 
of the question. Emphasis on the specific operation 
of design, e.g. in particular organs, has yielded to a 
conception of a world evolving, through the immanence 
of Deity, a purpose latent from the first. Evolution is 
the nam.e given to the process by which the purpose 

^ Final Causes, p. 191. 



becomes explicit. The method of the Divine operation 
is differently conceived, with the gain of explaining 
what on the old theory was mere mystery, and moral- 
ising a process conceived before as purely natural or 
rather non-moral. 

The doctrine of man held by Socrates was that he 
constituted the centre of this world as a system of 
ends. He is a sharer of the Divine nature.^ Through 
his essential nature, which is conceived by Socrates as 
intelligence enshrined in a body which can execute 
the behests of mind, he moves amongst the other crea- 
tures as a god.^ Without reason, increase or adapt- 
ability of the members of the body is useless ; and 
without suitable bodily organs the case is not much 
better. But with superiority in mind and members, 
continuous supremacy is assured. 

Worship, Socrates regarded as an expression of the 
close relations between man and God, and a method 
of maintaining them in their integrity, when it was 
the Godward attitude of a righteous life. No man 
could be less of a slave to form or more alive to the 
danger of substituting some positive ordinance or 
ceremonial of religion for goodness. He believed in 
sacrificing according to his means. Acceptability was 
not a question of quantity in the gift, but of character 
in the giver.^ Unto men first and then unto their 
offerings the gods had respect. He believed in prayer 
for good in general, leaving God to decide what 

^ Xen., 3fem. i. iv. 8. The question is as to the being of God, but the 
implication is that mind is a spark of the universal reason, as the body 
is a fragment of the matter of the world. 

2 lb. I. iv. 14 ; cf. Plato, Eepub. vi. 501 B ; Fhwdms, 248 A. 

^ Xen., 3Iem. i. iii. 3 j iv. iii. 16, 17. 




particular good should be for him. " His formula of 
prayer was simple : ' Give me that which is best for 
me ' ; for, said he, the gods know best what good 
things are, — to pray for gold or silver or despotic 
power were no better than to make some particular 
throw at dice or stake in battle or any such thing 
the subject of prayer, of which the future conse- 
quences are manifestly uncertain." ^ It is hardly safe 
to quote the Phcedrws for the doctrines of Socrates ; 
yet the prayer at the close accords with the spirit of 
his devotions as described by Xenophon : " Beloved 
Pan, and all ye other gods who here abide, grant me 
to be beautiful in the inner man, and all I have of 
outer things to be at peace with those within. May 
I count the wise man only rich. And may my store 
of gold be such as none but the good can bear." - The 
service of God was living righteously ; without this 
neither prayers nor gifts were of any avail. A 
man's life-work was a religious offering.^ Allowing 
for the Hellenic cast of thought, the emphasis on the 
intellectual and aesthetic aspect of conduct, religion is a 
service of the heart, expressing itself in a life devoted 
to righteousness, akin to that which in Hebraism 
appears as the continual prophetic demand. 

Closely connected with worship is the subject of the 
" divine sign," which Socrates claimed as, in effect, a 
personal oracle. As to the consultation of oracles, in 
its ordinary form the instances brought before us 
relate rather to the action of others ; * for Socrates 
himself, while advising his friends in important crises ^ 

^ Xen., Mem. i. iii. 2 ; cf. Plato, Phccdo, 117 C. 
2 Wright. 3 jipoi^ 23 B, C. 

^ Xen., Anal. in. i. 4-7 ; Mem. i. i. 6-9. 

* Apol. 21 A. 



to adopt that method of learning the Divine will, his 
personal sign was apparently found a sufficient guide. 
This "divine something" {to haifUmv) seemed to take 
the form of a warning inner voice which was with 
him through life,^ restraining him from mistaken 
action, sometimes in small matters ^ and sometimes in 
such great matters as his abstinence from politics, 
his philosophic associations, and his trusting to an 
extempore defence.^ In the Apology he describes it 
as always a restraint, never a stimulus. And here 
there is a conflict of testimony; for Xenophon says, 
on the contrary, " that he would constantly advise his 
associates to do this or beware of doing that upon the 
authority of this same divine voice." * This, however, 
is not of much moment, for it means this — the absence 
of warning or check implied permission. 

A more important question is that concerning the 
nature of this sign. One line of interpretation is 
suggested by the name given to the warning voice and 
the part it played in the life of Socrates. There is 
no question whatever that he himself regarded it as 
Heaven sent. It is a "divine something," a "divine 
sign," "the prophetic sign which he is wont to 
receive from the divine voice"; and while it speaks 
with reference to great and small things, it serves in 
his life very much the purpose which oracular signs 
serve in other men's. Just as to his companions he 
counselled action in all ordinary things by the use of 
their own reason and judgment, and consultation of 

1 See Zeller's collection of passages, Socr. p. 86, note. 

2 Euthyd. 272 E ; Phadrus, 242 B. 

3 Apol. 31 D ; Thecet. 151 A ; Xen., Mem. iv. viii. 5. 
* lb. I. i. 4 ; cf. IV. iii. 12 ; iv. viii. 1. 



oracles where these failed ; so his own normal action 
was regulated by his clear sense of right, virtue con- 
stituting for him the only true happiness ; but when 
in this line of conduct not only alternative courses 
of action, where questions of conscience were con- 
cerned, arose, but also cases where there were 
several possible courses, and the choice was one 
between acts, apparently, of moral indifference, or, at 
anyrate, not one between plain right and wrong, 
then this manifestation, in which he recognised the 
voice of God, became his guide. It is true that he 
represents it as not confining its guidance to grave 
affairs, yet this is merely a distinction of degree in 
weight; it can be shown that none of the recorded 
occasions of this restraint operating can from the 
Socratic standpoint be called absolutely trivial ; the 
most unimportant might have grave issues. Its work 
was to deter from ill. And this could not be trifling, 
he believed it divine ; just as he believed the mind of 
God wrought in the human mind through our partici- 
pation in the World - Reason, so through the avenue 
of this sensitiveness to the tone and quality of acts, 
carrying with it a kind of prophetic power, this sign 
was wrought, and became for him an instrument of 
connection with the Divine Will and obedience to 
that Will. Life was a unity with Socrates, and it 
was not a more remote supposition to have con- 
tact with God on its practical than on its intellectual 
side. The difference is that while he regards mind 
as a spark of the Divine Wisdom, he does not 
think of its ordinary operation as he thinks of the 
activity of the sign. He seeks God's activity liere in 
the abnormal. 



To explain this sign has been a very great difficulty 
to the philosophic critics of Greek thought. Zeller 
says in a note:i "Doubtless Socrates regarded God 
or the deity as its ultimate source. But he expresses 
no opinion as to whether it came herefrom." This 
latter is an extraordinary statement. The name given 
to the manifestation is itself a sufficient proof of his 
belief ; but in closest connection with sentences in which 
this name (the Daimonion), signifying a divine some- 
thing, is used, he speaks of it as expressing the mind 
of God. Of his defence he says : " I assure you, 
Hermogenes, that each time I have essayed to give 
my thoughts to the defence which I am to make before 
the Court, * the divinity (rh da/fiovicv) has opposed me.' 
And when he (Hermogenes) exclaimed, ' How strange ! ' 
' Do you find it strange ' (he continued) ' that to the 
Godhead (rw ^ew) it should appear better for me to 
close my life at once ? ' " ^ He expresses here the 
opinion that the voice or sense of restraint expressed 
the divine will in the matter ; and that this was his 
unshaken conviction there is no reasonable doubt. 
Every possible explanation has been advanced to 
meet the case. In patristic writing it was thought 
the manifestations were those of a personal genius, 
demon or angel. By critics seeking a more mundane 
theory of the facts, it has been treated as the effect 
of melancholia or some other form of insanity. This 
theory, through the influence perhaps of the school 
of Lombroso, has undergone revival lately. Lombroso, 
dealing with the abnormalities of genius, says of 
Socrates that he had " a cretin-like physiognomy," 

^ Zeller, Soc. p. 85, note 5. 

- Xen., Mem. iv. viii. 5, 6 ; cf. i. iv. 15 ; iv. iii. 12. 



that he " presented a photoparasthesia which enabled 
him to gaze at the sun for a considerable time with- 
out experiencing any discomfort," ^ that he " often 
danced and jumped in the street without reason"; 
but the uncritical heaping together of illustrations, 
of which Lombroso's book is full,^ does not prepossess 
the mind in favour of the theor}'. In this case, of 
two statements out of three, one is much too un- 
qualified, and one is unreliable ; and on another page 
he denies one of the best attested of facts, i.e. that 
Socrates was remarkable for his abstinence.^ At 
present the theory has some ascendency. It is used, 
as Professor James shows, to discredit literature which 
the critic dislikes,* or religious manifestations not 
explicable in any orthodox philosophic fashion. 
Fouillee talks about a psychological hallucination. 
Dr. Jackson thinks it was an illusion associated with 
the sense of hearing. Piat admits a possible element 
of truth in the former. In a newspaper report ^ of a 
medical lecture delivered by Professor Balfour in con- 
nection with the Royal College of Physicians, Edin- 
burgh, it is said, " Professor Balfour alluded to the 
hallucinations of Socrates." Dr. Murray calls it an 
"auditory hallucination."^ The age is one of swift 
change, and already such a theory as Lombroso's, in 
its application to natures like that of Socrates', seems a 
little old-fashioned. If there is one thing prominent 
in Socrates it is reason. He might be accused of being 
prosaic, of showing little sympathy with any but the 

1 The Man of Genius, pp. 8, 33, 38. 

2 Ih. pp. 45, 63, etc 

^ Ih. p. 54. 
■* James, Varieties of Religion, pp. 16-18. 
5 Dec. 4, 1900. ^ Anc. Ok. Lit. p. 173. 



rational side of things, but he is eminently sane. The 
note of his life is an appeal to reason. The true 
criticism on such a theory advanced as an explana- 
tion of the " divinum quiddam " in Socrates' experience 
is that this theory isolates it ; whereas it is charac- 
teristic. To call it hallucination,^ whether physio- 
logical or psychological, explains nothing, and could 
only be supposed to do so in cases where religious 
experiences are regarded as fruits of mental disease. 
A theory which regards the " voice" as the objectifying 
of a process of thought confesses failure.^ 

It is not necessary to limit the sphere of the opera- 
tion of the " sign " to the conscience to see that some of 
the objections to this theory are not profound. It is 
valid to urge^ that if conscience approves or disap- 
proves in retrospect of an act, it also urges and forbids ; 
whereas the dai/Momv prohibited merely, although even 
here it is necessary to say that its prohibitions became, 
sometimes at anyrate, a cause of detecting faults in 
past conduct.* It is not conclusive to say that con- 
science regards the moral value of acts and the " sign " 
their consequences, for in Socrates' way of looking at 
life there was a close connection between the two 
things. He believed that virtue led to happiness, and 
soucrht to defend his doctrine, when his virtue had 
led to his death, by proving that death was the best 
thing that could have happened to him. Nor is the 
objection much more successful which deals with the 
matters on which the " sign " was active. It is more 

* Dr. Jackson, Ency. Brit. vol. xxii. p. 234. 
a Of. Fouillee, ii. p. 284 sq. 

3 Zeller, p. 91 ; Piat, p. 219 ; see Benn, Greek Phil. i. 160, 161. 

4 Fhcedr. 242. 




than a question of congniity with the teacher's 
thought and dignity of character even that is involved 
in, for example, his defence before the Court; for 
him it is obeying in the crisis of his life a message 
from the God to whom his whole career has been 
dedicated. Nor can the moral sense be excluded in 
the question of discipleship. And the objection to its 
being conscience because of the jests of Antisthenes 
is without value. It is not proved that there was any 
real levity in the only free allusion by Socrates him- 
self.^ He might well enough feel that the spirit of 
love, alluded to under the old mythological forms, 
might be offended against by light words. There is 
nothing in all this to invalidate the remarks of 
Brandis,- save in their too rigid limitation. The sign 
is not conscience merely, nor is the field of its opera- 
tions confined to questions of plain right and wrong. 
The point of judgment of the whole matter is just the 
transfer of final authority from without to within ; in 
Hegel's words,^ " Socrates — in assigning to insight, to 
conviction, the determination of men's actions — posited 
the Individual as capable of a final moral decision in 
contraposition to Country and to Customary Morality, 
and thus made himself an Oracle in the Greek 
sense" This is in agi-eement essentially with Brandis' 
view : " But it is easily conceivable that Socrates 
sought Divine revelations first of all in self -conscious- 
ness, in order to knit them more closely to moral 
determinations." * 

1 Phcedr. 242. 

- Haiidhuch dcr Gcachichtc der Gr. Moon, Phil, ii. i. pp. 60-63. 

^ Phil, of Hist. p. 281 (Eng. trans.). 

"* Brandis, I.e. 


The defect of Socrates' own explanation is that it 
is not generalised. He fastens on the experience as 
peculiar to himself,^ and only on those instances of 
decisions in which he feels unable to explain the 
grounds of his apparently instinctive action. It 
attached itself to the religious sense so as always to 
command the obedience of his devout mind. Its 
suddenness and the authoritative character it wore 
led him to attribute it to an exceptional divine inter- 
vention. He was not in a position to analyse scien- 
tifically the contents of his own consciousness. He 
had a nature quickly responsive to moral claims, 
sensitive (in view of his age) to moral atmospheres, 
and its action is more truly described as intuitive 
than judicial. Here, indeed, it is necessary to recall 
his absolute language about the victory of true science 
over desire : his own obedience to duty was so prompt 
and had become so habitual that the sense of conflict 
was scarcely present ; so here the mind's processes were 
obscure to him ; and the imperative restraint, the fruit 
of workings, as to-day would be said, in that larger 
life of the soul lying outside the immediate con- 
sciousness, was attributed by him to God. The 
mistake was to limit his theory to the special 
experiences, however numerous. To compare the 
phenomena with the Christian doctrine of the inter- 
penetration of the human spirit by the "spirit of 
holiness": all mental life is a participation in the 
reason of God; it is divine inspiration that giveth 
us understanding: all spiritual life is a drinking of 
one spirit, which dwells in men, working in rear tn, 
conscience, and affections, and every right activity of 

1 Bc2>ub. 496 C. 



the many-sided single self. There are intensified 
experiences which the records of religious life in all 
times record. But the recognition that at such a time 
in a religious man's experience the " Spirit suffered him 
not" to'^take such and such a course, or constrained 
him to take another, is not to be interpreted as 
limiting fellowship with the life of God to such 
moments. Instead of saying simply that the "sign" 
was a message from the divinity, if Socrates had 
generalised his explanation he would have said that 
all legitimate exercises of his inner life were no less 
and no more " wrought in God " than his obedience 
to the restraints of the Daimonion. The mistake was 
to identify inexplicability with divinity. To-day men 
are convinced that if God is only to be discovered in 
the exceptional experience, He will not be found at all. 
The divine influence was not less active with Socrates 
when in the Apologia he asserted his resolution to obey 
God rather than the State, or when in the Crito he 
describes himself as listening to the Laws rather than 
to his friend, than when he yielded to its restraint and 
prepared no set defence. In the one case he felt the 
influence to be divine, in the other it seemed to be 
purely the action of his own mind. To have followed 
up the suggestion of the conversation with Aristo- 
demus would have furnished him with a theory con- 
sistent and comprehensive. Just as the purged and 
disciplined human reason could attain true knowledge 
' ^cause it participated in the one reason in the world, 
so when it turned towards the practical life it became 
through its spiritual apprehensiveness the pliant 
organ of the one righteousness to which its nature 
was akin. If a spark of the Divine Wisdom could 



shine through the intellectual life, so a voice of guid- 
ance from the Divine Goodness could speak in the 
practical life. 

It has been argued ^ that " it was a quick exercise 
of a judgment informed by knowledge of the subject, 
trained by experience, and inferring from cause to 
effect without consciousness of the process." It is 
admitted that statements in Plato are inconsistent with 
this theory ; the description of the " sign " as vouchsafed 
to Socrates from childhood, as restraining him from 
returning across the Ilissus after his speech to Phaedrus, 
until his levity is atoned for by a new discourse, or 
leaving the palaestra as he intended when Euthydemus 
entered, and causing him to listen, in consequence, to 
an eristic exhibition. It is admitted that if these 
statements are historical the theory is overthrown ; and 
it is asserted that the "heterogeneous instances of 
warnings given by it " are certainly inventions, part of 
the machinery of " the dialogues in which they stand." 
But supposing this is so, they are inventions in 
character; possibly no more inventions than other 
" heterogeneous instances " which are part of the sum- 
total through which our impression of the experience 
as a whole is formed. We are not at liberty, e.g., to 
use the statements Xenophon furnishes to assist us in 
forming a theory, and then to use the theory so 
formed to reject incidents from sources which may 
have an equal claim to contribute to the total impres- 
sion, unless we have established, as against Plato, the 
absolute historicity of Xenophon. 

The following admirable words seem to indicate the 

true track : 

1 Apology, Riddell's edition, Appendix A, p. 106. 



"No Christian would be startled by a view which 
recoonised every part of his mental processes as per- 
formed in dependence on God ; nor, on the other hand, 
would he be shocked to hear them spoken of as inde- 
pendently and properly his own. So long as each 
view reached the whole way, he would be satisfied 
with it, and would comprehend it. What Socrates did 
was to halve each of these views, and to speak of his 
mental processes as human up to the point where he 
could still follow them, — beyond that, as divine ! " ^ 
What Socrates did was to rationalise the known, 
and to make the mysterious the divine. What the 
usual explanations do is to complete the rationalising 
process by extending it to what was to him the voice 
or sign of the divinity. These theories cannot explain 
how his own intuitions or presentiments or momentary 
reasonings that acted like instinct could yet so appeal 
to his absolute reverence and obedience, and wear a 
character so remarkable. They did not do so by a 
process of mistake or illusion, but because at these 
points in experience there was an intensifying of the 
union which was ordinarily unmarked, a rising into 
consciousness of feelings simultaneously with pre- 
monitions or forecasts which like " every part of his 
mental processes" depended on God, and whose de- 
pendence was made strikingly obvious at the time. 
The experience remains not without mysteries and 
limitations. Its negative character has been noted as 
one; but this is not contradictory of confirmations 
which, " coinciding w^ith an existing purpose," - would 
be less noticeable. The strange supposition that he 
himself was the only recipient of such warnings seems 

1 A2)oL p. 109. * lb. p. 108. 



to be another, although there seems 1 to be an obscure 
hint to Euthydemus that others might receive them. 
It limits in such amazing fashion his notion of the 
deity's operations. Yet when all this is considered, 
it would require one to disbelieve the great challenge, 
" Is He not the God of the Gentiles also ? " or to rest 
in that parochial philosophy which turns away from 
experiences essentially religious as not only intractable 
but repellent, not to see in this manifestation an 
attenuated but real indication of the contact of the 
human spirit with the spirit of Him who besets us 
behind and before. 

We know that out of the Hebrew experience of 
religion the thought of the connection between God 
and the soul as enduring beyond time and change 
grew ; this, at least, was a vision from the heights of 
the religious life. Can it be affirmed that the Greek 
teacher, by the pathway of reason or through any 
experiences in the region of the emotional and moral 
life, gained such a view-point ? Broadly, the answer 
is that he did not profess knowledge on the question 
of immortality, but he cherished the belief. Whenever 
this subject is touched, it is impossible to exclude from 
the mind the marvellous picture in the Phcedo; but 
the question always presents itself, how much actual 
information is to be gained from this and other dia- 
logues, where the subject is dealt with in connection 
wfth matter known to be Platonic rather than Socratic. 
None but can feel here the harmony of speech and 
scene, the verisimilitude of spirit and atmosphere ; yet 
doubts recur. Coming after a somewhat rigid reading 
of the dialogues, and a tendency to limit everything by 

1 Mem. IV. iii. 13, quoted, ib. 103, with this interpretation put upon it. 




productions really composed in an apologetic interest, 
the feeling to-day is rather to enhance the degree of 
Socratic influence in Plato. Mere artistic truth could 
scarcely have permitted the teachings of the Meno, 
the Phcedo, and the Republic being put into the 
mouth of Socrates, if his attitude to the subject can 
be fairlv inferred from the silence of the Memora- 
hilia. If elsewhere in Xenophon there are points of 
contact with the teachings of the dialogues, it remains 
still somewhat of a mystery why, with all his anxiety 
to show the religious faith of Socrates, he should have 
so completely ignored or eliminated this element from 
his formal presentation of his master only to preserve 
it in the closing pages of a historical romance.^ The 
reasonings in the Fhcedo ^ are metaphysical and ideal- 
istic. They will serve to show us the Platonised 
Socrates. The immortality of the soul is supported by 
various considerations : by the idea of the generation 
of opposite conditions from their opposites ; ^ by 
the doctrine of pre-existence proved through recollec- 
tion;* by the uncompounded character of the soul;^ 
by her supremacy over the body, which shows her 
closer relationship to the divine ; ^ by her presumptive 
indestructibility as compared with the body, which 
itself is not immediately dissolved.^ Philosophy, 
which is the love of wisdom and the practice of 
death, can unite the soul to the life of the gods. 
At this point Simmias and Cebes start objections: 
Simmias compares soul and body to the harmony of 

^ Cyropccdia, viii. vii. 17-22. 

2 See for this whole analysis, Campbell, art. "Plato," Ency. Brit,, 
Jowett, and Church. 

3 Phcedo, 70 E sq. * lb. 72 E sq. 
6 lb. 78 B sq. « lb. 80 A. ' lb. 80 B sq. 


) 1 


a lyre and the lyre itself, and suggests that the incor- 
poreal character of the soul does not permit its immor- 
tality to be inferred ; and Cebes argues that the fact 
of the soul's having survived many changes does not 
prove its survival of the change death brings, any 
more than the fact of a man's wearing out successive 
garments proves that he is not himself worn out at 
last. The first of these objections Socrates answers 
by falling back on the doctrine of pre-existence, which 
was admitted : if the soul existed before the body, it 
cannot be the harmony of the body; "a harmony ^ 
cannot lead the elements of which it is composed, it 
must follow them " ; a harmony is a harmony " accord- 
ing as it is adjusted," but a soul is not, in any case, 
less or more a soul ; harmony is inapplicable to souls 
because of their moral condition : " Is not one soul said 
to have intelligence and virtue, and to be good ; while 
another is said to have folly and vice, and to be bad ? " ^ 
Then, " does the soul yield to the passions of the body, 
or does she oppose them ? " ^ But a harmony is simply 
the necessary eflect of " the tensions and relaxations 
and vibrations " * of the elements of which it is com- 
posed. It cannot oppose its instrument. Thus " it is 
quite wrong to say that the soul is a harmony." ^ And 
as for the objection of Cebes, it " raises the whole subject 
of the causes of generation and decay." ^ For himself, 
Socrates has abandoned all attempts to satisfy himself 
as to the reasons of things along lines of mechanical 
and physical causation, which after all describe methods 
only, confuse condition with cause, and never get back 
to the real cause — mind. He has concluded that he 

1 Phcedo 93 A (Church). 
* lb. 94 C. 

2 Ih. 93 B. 
5 lb. 94 E. 

3 lb. 94 B. 
6 lb. 95 E. 





" must have recourse to conceptions, and examine the 
truth of existence by means of them." ^ Thus he was 
led to the assumption of the existence of an absolute 
beauty and an absolute good,^ of which the conceptions 
in the minds of men are imperfect images ; ^ and which, 
as in the case with other ideas such as greatness, 
are the causes of such beauty and goodness as are seen 
amongst men. They are real subsistences in which 
objects participate. And the connection between the 
ideas and the things which participate in them, or in 
which they inhere, is such that it cannot cease without 
the thing losing its essential nature. Cold is different 
from snow, and fire from heat ; but the connection is 
such that snow cannot " receive heat ; and yet remain 
what it was, snow^ and hot " ; nor fire " receive the cold, 
and still remain what it was, fire and cold." The ideas 
exclude each other. Now it is so with the soul and 
life.* As oddness is the idea of three, coldness of 
snow, heat of fire, so the immortal is the idea of the 
soul, and it cannot admit its opposite, death. The 
immortal is imperishable. "If the immortal is im- 
perishable, the soul cannot perish when death comes 
upon her." ^ After this the discourse of Socrates passes 
into a mythological description of the soul's experiences 
and surroundings after death, involving a description 
of what this earth, which men only know in part, is, 
the judgment of the evil and the reward of the good. 

It is doing cruel injustice to the inexpressible beauty 
of the Phcedo to crowd together in this fashion its meta- 
physical reasonings ; doing so we seem to pass from 
serenity to jangling. Few have read this dialogue but 

1 Phcedo, 99 E. 
•» lb. 105 C, D, E. 

a Jb. 100 B. 

3 Cf. Church, p. 181, note. 
5 lb. 106 B. 


have felt that Phaedo's own words described their case : 
" Well, I myself was strangely moved on that day. I did 
not feel that I was being present at the death of a dear 
friend. I did not pity him, for he seemed to me happy 
. . . both in his bearing and in his words, so fearlessly 
and nobly did he die. . . . A very singular feeling came 
over me, a strange mixture of pleasure and of pain, 
when I remembered that he was presently to die." 
Yet we have to seek to gather what, if anything, is 
truly Socratic in all the reasoning here attributed to 
him, and what its worth is ; though this latter question 
is of less immediate concern. It would be strange if 
the lapse of two thousand years left the form of reason- 
ing on such a theme untouched. And to take the less 
important task first. Many of the arguments possess 
little cogency for us. They depend on the acceptance 
as a whole of the Platonic System, with its conceptions 
of Reminiscence, Persistence, Ideas, Transmigration and 
all. Succession is not the same as effect, nor pre- 
existence as survival. Modern psychology does not 
set forth theories as to the uncompounded character of 
the soul; the supremacy of soul is not more a fact 
than its dependence on the body to execute its will ; it 
can be injured and helped through the body. The 
argument from the more lasting character of the soul 
resting on the continuance of identity through the 
changes of this life assumes the point to be proved as 
to death. Tliat as to the impossibility of an idea 
admitting its opposite is little more than verbalism. It 
starts by saying what we wish to see proved, that the 
soul participates in the immortal ; of course, if this is 
so there is no need of further discussion. But the form 
of all these reasonings is determined by the whole 





Platonic conception of the soul in the background, and 
the early admission of pre-existence. If the soul is — 
what underlies all the considerations — a participant in 
the self- existent idea, then, of course, it had pre-exist- 
ence, and it cannot die. The main points^ in which the 
argumentation of the Phcedo touches modern thinking 
on the subject, which rather turns to moral and re- 
ligious considerations than to so-called natural argu- 
ments, that are, after all, only imperfect analogies, are 
in the description of the soul's discipline of itself : its 
study is preparation for death (which comes close to 
the qualitative view of eternal life) ; and the picture of 
the moral issues of our earthly career. 

When we pass from the metaphysical and idealistic 
argumentation of the Phcedo, most of which cannot be 
conceived to be Socratic, and return to the ground of 
dialogues specially preserving his teaching, we find 
hardly an utterance - on the subject, and Xenophon is 
silent about it in the Memorabilia. In the Apology the 
tone of Socrates is hesitating and doubtful. Death is 
either annihilation, to be compared to dreamless sleep 
(" Eternity is nothing more than a single night "), or it 
is a migration of the soul to the dwelling-place of those 
who have died and yet live, where are the true judges, 
and " the other demi-gods who were just in their lives," 
with whom it " would be an infinite happiness to con- 
verse," and who are happier than men on earth, for 
" they are immortal," at least if the common belief is 
true. In any case, "no evil can happen to a good 
man, either in life or after death." He closes with the 
famous and oft-quoted words : " But now the time has 
come, and we must go hence ; I to die, and you to live. 
1 Cf. Jowett, ii. p. 187. ^ Meno, 81 5^., e.g., is Platonic. 

Whether life or death is better is known to God, and 
to God only." ^ Death in the Crito, in the language put 
into the mouth of the Laws, is a "journey to Hades," 
where offenders against the Laws are not received 
kindly by their brethren the Laws in the under- 
world.2 These allusions are quite different from the 
statements in the " Socratic-Platonic " dialogues, where 
the doctrine, stated with contrasted fulness and confi- 
dence, is implicated with the doctrine of Recollection, or 
given in mythical coverings. But it cannot be denied 
that this reticence and hesitancy is much more in keep- 
ing with the idea of the plain moralist of Xenophon. 
In the romance of the Cyropc^dia, however, there 
are utterances approximating much more closely to 
the tone of confident belief, which may be taken as 
Xenophon's reproduction and application of Socratic 
teaching.3 The dying Cyrus * urges that a negative 
argument against immortality cannot be established 
from the invisibility of the soul, which was equally 
invisible when it occupied his body ; that remorse is 
the result of the action of the murdered upon their 
murderers ; that the soul was that which kept the body 
alive, the body depending on it, not it on the body ; 
that the apprehensive and forecasting power of the 
soul in sleep, when it is most free from the dominion of 
the body, rather points to the increase of its intelligent 
activity when wholly separate from the body. In any 
case, he feels his death to be an occasion for rejoicing,^ 
as he will be safe from harm whether annihilated or 
living with God. The things dwelt on here are such 
as are not inconsistent with teachings in the Memora- 

1 Apol. 40 C, 41 (Church). ^ Crito, 54 A, C. ^ Jowett, ii, 191. 
4 C^/rop. VIII. vii. 17-22. ^Ih.Tl. 



bilia where no such inferences are drawn from them. 
There the invisibility of the soul is used to deprecate 
unbelief as to the invisible Divinity; there, too, the 
soul is the directing principle of the body; and in 
the Apologia we have words as to the good man's 
hope to which the words of Cyrus seem akin. There, 
too, the basis of, at least, a pantheistic doctrine of the 
inextinguishable character of the soul is given ;i an 
emanation of the Reason whose signs are universal 
cannot die. There are, too, as M. Piat, to whom 
this comparison is due, points out, in this passage 
points of contact with the fully developed doctrine. 
The soul is that which vivifies perishable bodies, and 
in the Fhcedo it is inseparably united with the prin- 
ciple of life.2 Its spirituality and intelligence seem 
to have freer scope when, as in sleep, its connec- 
tion with the body appears slightest. Death is like 
sleep. And it is then that the soul may be expected to 
evince most clearly its nature. This, too, appears to 
contain a suggestion of that " study " in the Phcedo 
which " is simply the release and separation of the soul 
from the body." ^ In the other world and nowhere 
else will one " meet with wisdom in its purity." 

It may unquestionably be concluded that Socrates 
held faith in immortality, but as compared with the 
Phcedo the scantiness of the allusions in the historical 
matter bespeaks his own sense of the absence of that 
reasoned basis for assertion which he so earnestly 
sought in his discussions. Yet, on the other hand, the 
large place the doctrine holds in Platonism and in 
dialogues, that, in the midst of other matter, still yield 

^ Mem. I. iv. 8. 
3 Cf. 65-67. 

^Socrate, pp. 230-233, and PJuedo, 106. 



some of the actual Socrates, is entirely in favour of 
regarding Plato's speculations as testimony to a 
doctrine of immortality in the teaching of Socrates 
to which his disciple gave a development so ample 
and so strongly characteristic that the relationship 
between them has ceased to be plain. 

Forms of thought vary, and reasoning that seems 
weighty to one age ceases to carry conviction to a time 
with severer notions of proof ; and this applies no less 
to the two or three considerations apparently Socratic 
in origin than to the reasonings in the Phcedo already 
dealt with. The doctrine which coDstitutes the soul, 
the living principle of its organism, belongs to a non- 
experimental way of handling the problem, and seems 
to assume the point at issue. Nor is it a convincing 
argument that is deduced from the spirituality of the 
soul manifesting itself in greater vigour in proportion 
as it is freed from association with the body. In the 
one case it is known from ordinary experience that 
the mind works in sleep, in the other case it is not 
known in the same way from ordinary experience that 
it exists at all, much less works with greater free- 
dom. If it is shown, first, that it continues to exist 
after death, its greater freedom may be probable, 
but the point to be proved is its immortality, not its 
increased freedom, granted its immortality. Experi- 
ence (comprising all that is included in the Christian 
as in other historical religions) alone could establish 
what was desired. Some slight hints and suggestions 
of another line of thought are contained in the pas- 
sages already quoted from the Apology and the CritOy 
the idea of the future as a field for the realisation 
of the moral issues of life here. But this is not 



followed up. Socrates* tendency is always to the 
automatic action of moral law.^ He tends ordinarily 
to treat this life as complete in itself, even in the face 
of facts apparently inconsistent with his theory. In 
his view the inconsistency is not real. 

The sum of testimony on the subject is restricted. 
The arguments are less arguments than hints and 
gleams of truth, not always strictly relevant to the 
point to be proved, but interesting in themselves, and 
touching suggestively some of the many aspects of the 
subject. The remarkable thing is not the failure to 
reach dogmatic certainty (unattainable before Christ), 
but the reverence for truth that, in the absence of 
completely satisfying evidence of that which he 
earnestly desired to have confirmed, refused the lower 
satisfactions of mere unsifted tradition and supersti- 
tion ; and the elevation of soul which clung to duty to 
the last, and faced the dimness of death with cheerful 

^ Mem. III. ix. 12; iv. iv. l^sq. 



It was after the death of Socrates that Plato wrote 
the words which he puts into the mouth of Anytus in 
the Meno : ^ " Socrates, I think that you are too ready 
to speak evil of men ; and, if you will take my advice, 
I would recommend you to be careful. Perhaps there 
is no city in which it is not easier to do men harm than 
to do them good, and this is certainly the case at 
Athens, as I believe that you know." f The " evil-speak- 
ing " attributed to Socrates is a criticism of the great 
men who have been unable to impart their capacity 
and worth to their sons, in his argument to show that 
there are no teachers of virtue. Anytus is angry even 
at the ironical suggestion of sending anyone to the 
Sophists to learn virtue, and at the free handling of 
great names. And he goes away using ominous words. 
Whether the real Anytus ever used such words or not 
we cannot know ; but it is certain that at the time to 
which, in Plato's invention, they are assigned, they 
were true, and not at that time only. There was some- 
thing in the constitution of the Athenian State and 

1 94 E. 



the atmosphere of Athenian life favourable to freedom 
within limits; but there was also that which was 
inimical to a too free interpretation of that freedom. 
The normal habit of government by discussion did 
promote, within a certain range, the habit in the people 
of examining arguments and forming judgments for 
themselves. V Nevertheless such freedom did not reach 
the ideal state of things pictured by Grote.^ His 
account rests on the idealised sketch in the Funeral 
Oration of Pericles, which gives the Athens of the 
statesman's dreamt/' Such liberty as existed was not 
extended to matters deemed to affect religion, and 
bigotry was able to flourish in great strength. There 
were, moreover, in the beginning of the fourth century 
B.C. special causes at work intensifying the danger run 
by free speculation. - It was in 399 B.C. (April) that 
these general and special tendencies of opposition to 
the teaching of Socrates culminated in his trial and 
death. An indictment was brought against him by 
Meletus, a tragic poet; Lycon, an unknown rhetor- 
ician; and Anytus, a democratic leader. It ran thus: 
" Socrates is guilty of crime— first, in not believing in 
the gods that the city believes in ; secondly, in intro- 
ducing other new gods; thirdly, in corrupting the 
youth. The penalty due is death." 

How precisely Socrates himself dealt with these 
charges we do not know.^ His disciples Xenophon and 
Plato deal with them elaborately, each in his peculiar 
fashion. The whole of the Memorabilia constitutes 

1 Hist. Gr. V. 71-73 ; cf. vii. 142. For a contrary view to Grote, cf. 
Benn, Greek Philosophers, i. 167, 168 ; Buniet, Early Greek Fhilosojihy, 
pp. 276 ct seq. ; E. Abbott, Pericles, pp. 193, 196. 

2 Kiddell, Apol. PlatOy Introd. p. xviii. 



Xenophon's reply. The Apology, whose truth is that 
of spirit,^ is the special answer Plato puts into the 
mouth of his master ; the rest is in the great memorial 
built to his fame in the Dialogues':P Xenophon set 
himself to deal with specific charges, aiiniis defence 
grew into a presentation of the good citizen, who 
was a moralist and the counsellor of all his friends. 
To him, summarising his points roughly in the opening- 
chapters of the Memorahilia, there seems no reason in 
the charges. No tolerable evidence was forthcoming 
to show that Socrates failed to comply with the 
ordinary observances of the State religion. Nor did 
it appear to him that the claim Socrates made to what 
was virtually a private oracle could have weighed 
against him in the common mind, as his accusers 
hoped; for this very fact is part of the evidence 
adduced in the Memorabilia in favour of his piety. 
Doubtless it was a fact capable of a double interpreta- 
tion ; but Xenophon could scarcely have been so unwise 
as to introduce as counter evidence the very thing 
upon which his accusers relied, if this particular 
support of the charge had influenced very many. A 
mixture of political and moral offences constituted the 
third count.2 Socrates was a critic of " bean politics." ^ 
He had been associated with men obnoxious to the 
State as democratically constituted ; his influence was 
inimical to parental authority and respect for the body 
of the citizens. When we turn to th e Apologj i^ 
Plato the emphasis shifts. It is obvious that the main 

1 Riddell, op. cit. p. xix. 

2 Cf. Dr. Jackson's art. "Socrates" in JSncy. Brit, for analysis of 
allegations under this head. 

^ Beans were used in the election of public officers at Athens. 



effort here is turned in the direction of meeting that 
drift of prejudice setting in so strongly against the 
accused in his philosophic character as a supposed 
physicist and his character of teacher of youth, which 
is not separated in the popular mind from that of 
Sophist. Here, too, the defence widens out into a 
justification of his whole life-work, though confined, 
disregarding the interruptions caused by the forms of 
trial, within the limits of a speech. The hostility to 
be faced was not that of Meletus but of Athens, and 
the defence takes a corresponding range. It is ad- 
dressed to Athens and to the world. 

It may be at once admitted that in no possible society 
could a mission such as that of Socrates be carried out 
without exciting men's hostility. His passion for talk, 
his pertinacious reasoning, the relentlessness with which, 
like a_" gad fly, "—his own comparison,— he fastened 
on'men, quite unawed by any conventional dignity or 
'authority which the victims might possess, and com- 
pelled them to yield up a reason of the aim that was 
in them, or to discover the barrenness of their minds, 
' all tended to make enemies. Nowhere is the man who 
persistently says ^ what he thinks people need, rather 
than what they wish, to hear, likely to escape some of 
the consequences of unpopularity. And it was an 
inevitable consequence of the personal and conversa- 
tional style of teaching adopted by Socrates that it 
should accentuate the sense of humiliation and irrita- 
tion of defeated disputants. It is easier to be lectured 

1 Gonjias, 521 D d seq., where he discusses the unpopularity sure to 
befall him. The picture of Demos as petulant and passionate agrees 
vdih that painted by Aristophanes, who was at the opposite pole of 
thought from Socrates. Cf. Equates, 40, etc. 


as one of a crowd than singled out for treatment in 
Socratic fashion.^ It doubtless was a wholesome dis- 
cipline ; it could not but be painful. Nor is it to be 
supposed that Socrates himself escaped all the defects 
of his quality of victorious reasoner. There are 
plenty of passages where the reader, in the calmness 
of study, experiences a sense sometimes of weariness, 
sometimes of irritation, at the endless turnings and 
twistings of the argument ; the simplicity, not to say 
stupidity, of the remarks frequently furnished to the 
interlocutors for Socratic refutation ; the failure some- 
times to face the opponents' strongest position; a 
lingering sense that less than justice has been done to 
his view. In some dialogues Socrates seems too obvi- 
ously the "star" of the little company of players. 
One could not be human, in short, who could carry on 
the work of a controversialist for many years without 
sometimes yielding to the besetting sins of the charac- 
ter. Macaulay probably spoke for more than himself 
when he wrote : " The more I read about him the less 
I wonder that they poisoned him." ^ It is quite certain, 
in any case, that his sowing of truth in Athens had 
Raised up for him a plentiful crop of dislike. Men who 
"w^ere self-sufficient and satisfied with existing con- 
ditions resented his handling. And of this his own 
utterances (accepting the drift and spirit of the Apology 
as true) show him to be conscious. He speaks as a man 
who knows that his main fight is against prejudice.^ 

Another reason of his unpopularity with many is 

pointed to in the mistaken identification of him at once 

"with the natural philosophers and with the Sophists.* 


' Laches, 187 E. 
^ Apol. 22 E sq. 

2 Life, ii. 436. 
* Apol. 18 B, C. 





Some twenty-three years^ before he had been held up 
£0 ridicule by Aristophanes, in The Clouds, sls a mixture 
of physicist and Sophist, one who kept a "thinking 
shop," who occupied himself in puerile inquiries and 
impious speculations, and who taught unsettling prin- 
ciples to the young; and later allusion showed the 
same misunderstanding. vThe students of natural 
philosophy, suspectedTas Anaxagoras had been, of irre- 
ligion were not Sophists, nor was the converse true; 
but the common view made no fine distinctions, and 
the poets' wit had stamped the prevailing impression 
more deeply on undiscriminating minds. Socrates feels 
certain that many of his judges in the great court of 
the Helisea, consisting probably of five hundred and 
one members,^ had grown up with prejudice against 
him as a man who could teach men to argue on any 
side, and whose influence on his associates was bad. 
The identification of liim with the natural philosophers, 
whose pursuits he had abandoned at an early period of 
his philosophic activity, and now derided, seems merely 
dense, although quite conceivable in those who con- 
founded physicists with Sophists. There is more reason 
for mistaking him for a Sophist. He and they alike 
were public educators ; they alike departed from estab- 
lished conventions; they alike appeared to appeal to 
the individual as against authority. It could hardly 
perhaps be expected that the average man should 
clearly distinguish between them. Socrates himself 
was understood to have been a pupil of Prodicus. His 
relations with individual Sophists were friendly. Some 
of his associates had attended their lectures. Often his 
language and methods seemed indistinguishable from 

1 See Riddell, ojp. cit. p. iv. 


theirs.i The Athenian conservative felt himself justi- 
fied in opposition to a dialectician of this kind. If 
Socrates avowed ignorance, the confession would be 
confounded with the denial of objective truth. If he 
insisted on expert knowledge as giving authority to 
speak on a matter like education, this would be in- 
terpreted as teaching youths to disobey their parents. 
It was corrupting them by undermining their moral 
principles. It was not grasped that his principle of 
the attainability of true knowlege by the use of the 
trained reason separated him from those whose negative 
criticism started from no such ideal ; and that his aim 
of making this knowledge the basis of all activity must 
conflict with the theories of those who either reduced 
reality to the fluctuating experience of the individual, 
or took "unreasoned commonplace" as material out 
of which to build schemes of personal advantage.^ Men 
did not see these profound differences, but they did see 
that there were disintegrating influences at work in 
Athens, sapping conviction and fostering an increasing 
regardlessness of other considerations than success; 
and the most obvious of these influences seemed to 
be the teaching of these Sophists, with whom the 
ordinary citizen classified the philosopher. They saw 
that many of those who had received the instruction 
of these men had been troublers of Athens, and 
they felt it would be a service to the State to de- 
stroy one who to many appeared the worst Sophist 

of all. ^-^ n^^ 

But,4dinitting all this^jt^emains true, as haS been 
well remarked, that the foundation reason of jbe^ trial 
was poli tical. 'After the generation-long strain, as it 

1 Mem. IV. iv. 9 ; Eepub. 340 D. 

- Riddell, op. cit. p. xxv. 



seemed, of the Peloponnesian War, ending in the sore 
HuminatroiroF^tTiensrthereTi^ come to the suffering 
republic the misery of the oligarchical tyranny of the 
Thirty ; and it was just four years since, through the 
bravery of Thrasybulus and the sacrifices of many 
earnest democrats, among whom was Anytus, one of 
the present accusers, the city had regained its democratic 
constitution ; and the flush of the republican reaction 
agajnst alL aristocrats and oligarchs still continued. 
The return of the democrats to power had been marked 
by mildness of treatment of their enemies ; but there 
was a nervous feeling in their minds, analogous perhaps 
to that with which the French republican watches 
the ultramontane and royalist section of his country- 
men. Men like_ Anytus saw, or thought they saw, 
that the theory of government by the instructed 
man as against the unskilled, rule-of-thumb politi- 
cians, which the system of popular election secured 
for Athens, tended to practical party issues. Filling 
offices by lot excited th^jests of Socrates. He desired 
int ellectual aristocrat s. Bis theory was that_pqlijtical 
power ought not to belong to the fevTor the many, 
as suchT^ut to knowledge. It was a kind of intellec- 
tual Whiggism. An d the democrats judged that the 
political affinities of a theoryl)f ihat kind were with 
oligarchy.^ Hen who had been in association with him, 
Critias and Charmides, had gained an evil fame through 
the crimes of " the Thirty." His disciples appeared to 
find their political ideals in Sparta ; and when it was 
seen that he was not a mere theorist but so far played 
the part of practical reformer as to urge some men 
forward to public life, and that from those who had at 
^ Forchhammer, Die Athcner und Sokrates, p. 71. 




one time been his followers men so harmful to the State 
as Critias and Charmides came, Anytus and his like 
would easily persuad^ themselves that the preservation 

"oif the State from such politicians lay in the destruction 
of the ir teacher. Nor would the personal animus 
cherished by Anytus ^ against Socrates prove any the 
less active that it could avail itself of the disguise of 
public zeal. And with the wide latitude of Athenian 
pleading it was possible to present, under the moral 
and reliofious headino^s of the indictment, what would 
be deemed by many fair illustrations of the type of 
citizen adherence to Socrates produced. 

In his answer,^ Socrates sums up, first, the floating 
accusations which at once express and make the 
prejudice under which he suffers.^_Outside the court 
people are saying everywhere : " Socrates is an evil-doer 
and a currous person, searching into things under the 

^rth and above the heaven, and making the worse 
appear the better cause, and teaching all this to others.""^ 
Tnside he must meet the charge : " Socrates is an evil- 
doer and corrupter of the youth, who does not receive 
the sods whom the State receives, but introduces new 

divinities.',^ He jenies jhat he is a student of natural 

science. He neither pretends to ^nowlaor to teach it ; 

'although he has been satirized as a natural philosopher. 
NoTLiathere any more foundation for the report that 
he is a Sophist. He would have been " very proud and 
conceited " if he had possessed knowledge enough to 
charge five minae for a course of instruction, as Evenus 

^ Meno, 95 A ; Xen., Apol. 29 sq. 

2 See the analyses of the Apologij in Jowett, Campbell's art. *' Plato," 
Ency. Brit. xix. 198, and Riddell's edu. of Ajtol. 
^ A2)ol. 18. 



does ; but he has no knowledge such as Sophists dispense, 

"noi- has he eve rj-eceived money for teaching.^ He does 
not, however, wish people to believe that this trouble 

Tas simply sprung out of the ground. It has arisen 

'because of the unpopularity that he has incurred 
through obedience to the call he conceives himself to 

Tiave received through the oracle at Delphi when 
consulted by his friend Chaerephon. To fathom its 
mystery he embarked on what has proved a lifelong 
quest of knowledge, which pursuit has led him to 

'examine the claims of all sorts and conditions of men 
to its possession, with the result of discovering that 
they had not even clear conceptions as to their own 
pursuits. It. is because of this that so much enmity 

Tias been aroused against him.^ Th^xery fact that his 
conversations are attractive to numbers of well-to-do 
young men who imitate his methods of argument, is 
'turned to his harm ; for, in resentment at an examina- 
tion which reveals their ignorance, many people rake 
up agaihsF hfm and his followers the "stock charges 
against all philosophers." "What I have told you, 
Athenians, is the truth; I neither conceal, nor do I 
suppress anything, small or great. And yet I know 
that it is just this plainness of speech which makes me 

enemies." ^ 

IVhen he turns to the actual indictment, it is difficult 
to grasp the force of what is advanced. If he is the 
only corrupter of youth and all others are engaged in 
improving them, it is strange, for in any other art skill 
is the only means of improvement, and skill is the 
possession of the few and not of the many. And is 

1 Apol. 23 A : "I liave made many enemies of a fierce an d bitterkind/' 
2/6. 24 A (Church). 



it likely that a man would be so foolish as to know- 
ingly "make any of his companions a rogue," when 
"he will probably injure" the corrupter "in some 
way " ? Self-interest forbids. If he is doing men 
unintentional harm, then his case is one for private 


fi e then J urns_to the_charge of bringing in ne>v 
" divine things," and makes Meletus contradict himself 
By accusing him of atheism. As a matter of fact, be 
shows that for a long time the heretical opinions of 
Anaxagoras, with which his accuser seems to confuse 
the ideas denounced, have been accessible to everybody 
■ in books and plays. They are not the views of Socrates, 
and it is a poor compliment to the judges not to suppose 
that they knew that. If a man believes in "divine 
"things," new or old, he must believe in divinities. The 
indictment accusesjiim of what is, atanyrate, inconsis- 
ient withThe~atheism the accuser urges. It cannot be 
saiTthat these~arguments are very conclusive. ^Part 
nijhf^ nnswer jcests on the JQctrine o^the impossibility 
of willing wrong; part on taking advantage of the 
'conFusTorTln the mind of Meletus between the State 
gods and divine beings universally. ^ He treats Meleius 
and his charges, in^f act, with a certain, contempt j_" But 
in truth, Athenians, I do not think that I need say 
very much to prove that I have not committed the 
crime for which Meletus is prosecuting me. What I 
have said is enough to prove that." * 

The real difficulty is the invincible pr^iidice_ against 
him, to whidrhe feTumsT^Bu^^ 
Sue, as I have already told you, that IJiave incurred 
much unpopularity and made many enemies. And 

I j^ol 28 A (Church). 



that is what will cause my condemnation, if I am con- 
demned." )^ut if it is asked, " Why, then, does he persist 
in a course so certain to end fatally ? " he can only 
answer that he must stick to >is God-assigned post. 
"My friend, if you think that a man of any worth at 
all ought to reckon the chances of life and deatlJwhen 
he acts, or that he ought to think of anything but 
whether he is acting rightly or wrongly, and as a good 
or a bad man would act, you are grievously mistaken/'^- 
" 5?^1^^^X^6^ ^ man's post is, whether he has chosenJtDf 
his own will or whether he has been placed at it by his 
commander, there it is his duty to remain and face the 
danger without thinking of death or of any other 
thing except ^dishonotw*."^ When he was a soldier at 
Potidaea, Amphipblis, and Delium, he stuck to the post 
where his officers had placed him ; nor will he be less 
faithful to the command of God. To fear death is to 
pretend " to know what we do not know." For " it may 
WHie greatest good that can happen" to men. For 
Inmself he claims no knowledge, but he, is quite sure 
'^that disobedience to duty is base. So goffered quit- 
tance on the condition of ceasing from his mission, his 
answer woulS ^Bunyan's.;-^' If^ou%t-me^ out to-day, I 
,will preach again torjnorrow." He -said': " Athenians, I 
hold you in the highest regard and love; but I will 
obey ^o3~rather than you: and as long as I have 
"breath and strength I will not cease from philosophy 
and from exhorting you, and declaring the truth to 
"every one of you whom I meet, saying, as I am wont, 
* My excellent friend, jou are a citizen of Athens, a 
cSy which is very great, and very famous for wisdom 
' and^power of mind ; are you not ashamed of caring so 

'-'' ^Apol. 28 B (Church). ^ lb, 28 D. 




much for the making of money, and for reputation and 
for honojlr ? Will you not think or care about wisdom, 
and truth, and the perfection of your soul?'"'^ He 
"considers that his mission is a providential service to 
^Athens. His task is to witness constantly to the city 
'that every good thing which men have comes from 
virtue, and he will not alter his way of life, "no, not if 
he has to die for it many times." 

The only way in which he will appeal to them is to 
assure them that if they put him to death, they will be 
the losers, not he.^" Meletus and Anytus can do me no 
harm ; that is impossible : for I am sure that God will 
not allow a good man to be injured by a bad one." 
But they may be sure if they reject him that they 
are rejecting one who was sent to them by something 
more than " a mere human impulse," for his course of 
life has involved sacrifices which evinee at least his 


His course lies open to the objection that he has 
never been a participant in the public life of Athens, 
and he proceeds to argue that to have followed this 
line would have been to bring his special mission to 
a speedy end. Any conscientious man who "comes 
forward in public and advises the State" will find 
himself in some juncture at war with the multitude, 
and he cannot expect to " save his life " if he " honestly 
strives against the many lawless and unrighteous 
deeds " which are done in the State. He himself has 
proved it to be so. He resisted the unjust demands 
of the people as to the trial of the generals after 
Arginusse ; he equally resisted the power of the Thirty 
in the affair of Leon of Salamis ; in both cases at the 
a Apol. 29 D, E (Church). Cf. Acts iv. 19, 20. 



risk of life, And it is not to be conceived that he 
could have lived to continue his philosophic mission 
so many years if he had taken up politics. 

Returning to the question of the influence of his 
teaching over the young, he denies that he ever had 
any regular school. Anyone could hear him who chose. 
No one paid ; and there was no secret teaching. Nor 
is he afraid of an appeal to any man who knows the 
'facts. Many of the relatives of his young friends he 
can see in court, and some he mentions by name ; 
but none, he is sure, will support the indictment on 
this head. 

Such is his defe nce ; nor does he intend to resort to 
the customary unmanly pleadings and exhibitions of 
defendants. Self-respect and plain justice forbid ; for 
the judge's business is "not to make a present of 

justice, but to give judgment.'^ To overcome by 

pleading the jurors' oaths to do strict justice, would be 
teaching them unbelief towards the gods, and would 
simply convict himself " of the charge of not believing 
in them." " But," he adds, " that is not so,— far other- 
wise. For I do believe that there are gods, and in a 
sense higher than that in which any of my accusers 
believe in them ; and to you and to God I commit 
my cause, to be determined by you as is best for you 
and me." 

At this point the votes of the judges were taken; 
and being given for ~con denmation by a majority of 
sixty-one, the accuser made a second speech, advocating 
the penalty named ;^ then the accused was permitted 
to reply, and to suggest an alternative penalty. 

Socrates had expected condemnation, and was not 

^ See procedure in Riddell's Apol., Introd. p. vi. 



perturbed. If he is to suggest an alternative to the 
punishment, he feels that, as one who has spent his 
life in the service of the city, he can do no less than 
propose that he should be maintained in the Prytaneum 
as one who has deserved better of the State than an 
Olympic winner. He did not intend to defy them in 
refusing to make entreaties. He is simply as deter- 
mined not to wrong himself as he is sure that he has 
not willingly wronged others. He objects to propose 
either imprisonment, line, or exile as an alternative 
penalty; but in compliance with custom proposes a fine 
of a mina, which he increases, at the suggestion of his 

friends, to thirty minae. 

* After the jecond vote is taken, and he is condemned 
to death by judges scandalised and irritated by his 

^confidence and fearlessness, he is permitted to speak 
the last words of his defence. 

His accusers have only anticipated nature by a short 
tim^e ; and not on the merits of the case, but because he 
disdained to use unworthy arts, they Jiave condemned^ 
him. But " he^WQiild rather die having spoken after 
hii" manner/than speak in their manner and live." 
Every way of escape is not allowable. He is con- 
demned by his judges, and his judges are condemned 
by the truth. Let them not think that they will 
escape both censure and reform by putting the un- 
welcome censor away. Others will carry on the work, 
and they should remember that the way to escape 
censure is to be difibrent men. 

Before he is removed to jail he wishes to say some- 
thing to those who voted for his acquittal. It^s tjiat 
iS;alUke„daxs _£rocee^ there has been no check or 
hindrance from the divine s ign ; a circums^ance^ from 



which hef ajjjgursjhat all is well, and that death itself 
is^a^^ood. xleason comes to the aid of this conclusion ; 
for if death is a dreamless sleep, it will be an 


speakable gain." If it is a removal to another place, 
where the great of the past now dwell, the just judges 
and the poets and the heroes, then " if this be true," he 
says, " let me die again and again." He will meet the 
wise, and hold converse with them in a world where 
" they do not put a man to death for asking questions." 
He says, " I am not angry with my condemners or with 
my accusers; they have done me no harm, although 
they did not mean to do me any good, and for this I 
may gently blame them." 

There is one service still that the Athenians can do 
him : it is to punish, trouble, and reprove his sons " if 
they seem to care about riches or anything more than 
about virtue ; or if they pretend to be something when 
they are really nothing." 

" The hour of departure has arrived, and we go our 
ways — I to die and you to live. Which is better, God 

One question of great interest, we may hope, is 
settled, if we may take the language of this Apology 
with reference to the enemies of Socrates as deciding 
his attitude towards the question of personal wrong. 
On the general question of how far outside the limits 
of Greek Ethics he was prepared to travel in dealing 
with the position of the good citizen towards bar- 
barians and enemies,^ — as to the first he says little : 
the interest of his speculations was in a new moral 
basis for the individual man and State, and not in the 
conception of new political combinations, passing be- 

^ Cf. Zeller, Socrates, p. 170 ; Piat, Socrate, p. 179 sq. 





yond national limits, which many years later had not 
entered the mind of even Aristotle,^ who confined his 
anticipations to a possible Hellenic union : as to public 
hostilities, he stands on the ordinary ground, and asserts 
that in war justice does not forbid harm of many kinds 
to enemies.^ But here there is light cast on the ques- 
tion of personal wrong. Between Plato and Xenophon 
there is, indeed, flat contradiction. The soldier repre- 
sents his master as accepting the doctrine, " Thou shalt 
love thy neighbour and hate thine enemy " ; ^ but the 
philosopher represents him in the Gorgias * as teaching 
that it is doing injustice, and not suffering it, that is 
the greatest of evils ; in the Apology as saying, " I am 
not angry with my condemners " ; ^ and in the Crito,^ as 
showing that in no circumstances will the just man 
do any harm to another, even to avenge wrong done to 
himself. This is one of the cases in which it is per- 
missible to hope that time brought enlargement,^ and 
tharji the words of the Crito and Apology the far- 
sightedJPlato has given us the true picture of the mind, 
of his master. 

V I am not angry with my condemners or with my 
accusers." Socrates forgave the Athenians ; and it is 
certain that they badly needed forgiveness. The 
craving to revise the verdicts of history has__caused 
various representations of this event which palliate' or ' 
wholly excuse their conduct ; but it does not lend itself.-- 
easily to such treatment. Benn says, " Those who 
aTtemptTo remove this stain from the character of the 

1 Polit. VII. vii. 13276, 33. 
^ Ih. II. iii. 14 ; 11. vi. 35. 
® Apol. 41. 
7 Cf. Piat, 181. 


2 Mem. IV. ii. 15. 
4 Gory. 469 B. 
6 Crito, 49. 




Athenian people will find that, like the bloodstain on 

Bluebeard's key, when it is rubbed out on one side it 

reappears on the other." It " reveals a depth of hatred 

\ I for pure reason in vulgar minds which might other- 

\ % I wise have remained unsuspected." ^ It was a battle 

yf between reason and reaction at bottom, and reaction 

% ^ i was able for the moment to triumph. 

They had not proved their case. Socrates could not 
be*shown to be irreligious. He complied with common 
observances whatever speculative opinions he held. 
No attempt is reported to us, in any chance allusion, 
of the accuser seriously trying to show how Socrates 
could be said to be starting a new religion. His sign 
emanated from the Divinity, through whom the 
Delphic oracle had come that determined his life- 
work. Nor, although his answer deals only lightly 
with the charge, could they be said to have made out 
their case of his bad influence on the young. Many 
a prominent Athenian had had sons unlike himself. 
Were men to carry the sins of their children ? On 
the same principle, it has been remarked,^ if Socrates 
was blameworthy for the conduct of Critias and 
Alcibiades, we should have to blame Seneca for Nero 
and Jesus Christ for Judas. 

The thought in those who defend ^ or pallifl^te * the 

condemnation is really the clear statement to them- 

\" selves of what was present ^s an instinct ■or_ blind 

\ ^conviction in the minds of the Athenian jurors that 

•N [ Socrates^ methods were generally unsettling to the 

fabric of the State. sH^6*itt)od for reason and private 

judgment, and the State rested on authority. The 

^Gh Phil. i. 167. 

2 Forcliharamer, op. at. 

2 Lasaiilx. 
4 Grote. 


view is that a Greek State was a kind of closed 
system in which reason must not be allowed play.i 
S^j^Bs was_ in possession of a weapon in his use 
of reasoning which was dangerous whether used 
in attack or defence. The free play of mind was 
the objectionable thing. To-day it might be used to 
establish on a new basis something formerly received 
on authority; to-morrow, to destroy it from the 
foundations. And if a Greek State had been at that 
time in the position depicted of being a sort of church 
with a tightly bound creed, there might, from the 
standpoint of self-defence, be something to be said 
for the action of Athens. But, as a matter of fact, iJi£_ 
Gr^ek mind jvvas never tlius universally bound in 
swathings of creed. Athens, indeed, had shown itself 

wkh more manifestly heretical ideas 2 than Socrates 
Qver propounded had lived peacefully in Greek States ; 
a;ad in Athens itself for many a year there had been a 
freedom of comment and opinion permitted on such 
questions quite inconsistent with this sudden access of 
orthodoxy. This is the mistake wliich runs through 
the presentation of this case. In an access of orthodox 
zeal, sincere men of conservative mind in religion and 
government can be easily conceived feeling themselves 
obliged to take action against a dangerous innovator 
whose criticism was eating into the fabric of the nation's 
polity and religion. But the supposition of such a 
case — the hitherto practically unaffected solidity of 
State institutions and worship— cannot stand. Such a 
conception of uniformity was certainly not embodied 
in the Athens of 399 B.C. There had been disputes of 

1 Benn, p. 164. 

lb. p. 168. 




philosophers and fights of politicians long before ' 
But in the flush of successful partisanship a kind ot 
political and religious pharisaism took possession of 
the Athenian democrats. There was a political 
revenge to be snatched by condemning Socrates, who, 
if not a politician, held ideas indistinguishable by the 
Athenian philistine from oligarchy, and at the same 
time a blow to be struck at innovation ; as it, apart 
from Socrates, the tower of the city's religious and 
political life stood foursquare to all the winds that 
blew The facts were not as it pleased them to 
assume The Jud^an parallel, if one may reverently 
suo-p-est it is not indeed so remote as it at first appears. 
There too there was the party of established order, 
whom' it pleased to ignore the facts of the rehgious 
life of the nation, in its contemporary differences, its 
past battles of prophetism against priestism, its warring 
sects and speculative disagreements. The '; sap and 
spirit of relio-ion " had gone, yet the form was jealous ot 
innovation. And against Christ, who plucked out the 
heart of the mystery of Judaism and saved ot it al 
that was worth saving, who proclaimed a spiritual 
faith and manifested and imparted the life ot God, 
the whole passion of reaction burst forth. There was 
the appeal to legality : " We have a law " ; there was 
the underlying political motive to preserve the fabric 
by sacrificing the innovator; and to anyone who 
looked either at the past or present of the nation, 
the same hollowness in the assumption. To return to 
Greece • if ever, Zeller 1 shows, the Athenians had had 
the moral right to deal drastically with an innovator 
like Socrates, it had been long since lost. Many, hke 

1 0}}. cit. i>. 231. 



Anytus ^ himself, certainly were absolutely sincere, but 
the city, and doubtless the judges' court, held many 
who could enjoy the irreverent jests of Aristophanes, 
who knew that the old order of things in its integrity 
had passed away, and whose very lack of moral earnest- 
ness made simulated zeal possible. Thus between 
political partisanship, jealousy of reason, and per- 
sonal prejudice, a current too strong for effectual resist- 
ance set in against Socrates, and he was carried away. 

Owing to an Athenian custom which forbade public 
executions during the voyage of the sacred vessel 
which, with laurel-crowned stern, proceeded every 
year to Delos in memory of the deliverance wrought 
by Theseus, Socrates was confined in prison for a 
month before his death. During the time propositions 
were made to him that he should avail himself of the 
means of escape which his friends were ready to 
supply ; 2 but he declined their proposals, as he would 
commit no breach of the law. He was permitted to 
see his friends, and continued to occupy himself in 
intercourse with them and poetical composition until 
the time of his death. 

All the world knows the description of that scene. 
Early in the morning of the day of his death, his 
friends Crito, Phsedo, Cebes and others arrive at the 
prison, where, just released from his fetters, Socrates 
is sitting with Xanthippe. With a certain coldness 
his wife is dismissed, " weeping bitterly and beating 
her breast." Plato represents the intervening hours 
until sunset as occupied with the discussion^ on im- 
mortality already dealt with, which Socrates regards 

* Murray, Ancient Greek LUeraturCy pp. 176, 177. 
3 See remarks, p. 232. 

2 Crito. 




as his "swan-song." As the discourse comes to an 
end, the day is creeping on to evening; and as the 
hemlock must be drunk by sunset, Socrates gives his 
last directions : Let his friends take care of themselves 
and walk by the prescribed rule. They can bury him 
in any way that they like; but they must first get 
hold of him, and take care that he does not run away 
from them. Then he retires to bathe. 

"When he had taken the bath his children were 
brought to him (he had two young sons and an elder 
one) ; and the women of his family also came, and he 
talked to them and gave them a few directions in the 
presence of Crito ; then he dismissed them and returned 

to us. 

" Now the hour of sunset w^as near, for a good deal 
of time had passed while he was within. When he 
came out, he sat down with us again after his bath, 
but not much was said. Soon the jailer, who was 
the servant of the Eleven, entered and stood by him, 
saying: 'To you, Socrates, whom I know to be the 
noblest and gentlest and best of all who ever came to 
this place, I will not impute the angry feelings of other 
men, who rage and swear at me when, in obedience to 
the authorities, I bid them drink the poison— indeed, 
I am sure that you will not be angry with me, for 
others, as you are aware, and not I, are to blame. 
And so, fare you well, and try to bear lightly what 
must needs be — you know my errand.' Then, burst- 
ing into tears, he turned aw^ay and went out. 

"Socrates looked at him and said: *I return your 
good wishes, and will do as you bid.' Then, turning 
to us, he said, 'How charming the man is: since I 
have been in prison he has always been coming to see 



me, and at times he would talk to me, and was as good 
to me as could be; and now see how generously he 
sorrows on my account. We must do as he says, Crito, 
and therefore let the cup be brought if the poison is 
prepared ; if not, let the attendant prepare some.' "... 
The jailer brings the poison and gives Socrates 
directions: "At the same time he handed the cup to 
Socrates, who, in the easiest and gentlest manner, 
without the least fear or change of colour or feature, 
looking at the man with all his eyes, Echecrates, as his 
manner was, took the cup and said, ' What do you say 
about making a libation out of this cup to any god ? 
May I or not?' The man answered: 'We only pre- 
pare, Socrates, just so much as we deem enough.' * I 
understand,' he said, ' but I may and must ask the gods 
to prosper my iourney from this to the other world- 
even so— and so be it according to my prayer.' Then 
raising the cup to his lips, quite readily and cheerfully, 
he drank off the poison. And, hitherto, most of us had 
been able to control our sorrow ; but now, when we 
saw him drinking, and saw, too, that he had finished 
the draught, we could no longer forbear, and in spite 
of myself my own tears were flowing fast ; so that I 
covered my face and wept, not for him, but at the 
thouo-ht of my own calamity in having to part from 
such^'a friend. Nor was I the first ; for Crito, when 
he found himself unable to restrain his tears, had got 
up, and I followed ; and at that moment Apollodorus, 
who had been weeping all the time, broke out m a 
loud and passionate cry which made cowards of us all. 
Socrates alone retained his calmness: 'What is this 
strange outcry?' he said. 'I sent away the women 
mainly in order that they might not misbehave m this 



way, for I have been told that a man should die in 
peace. Be quiet, then, and have patience.' When we 
heard his words we were ashamed, and refrained our 
tears. . . . His last words were : * Crito, I owe a cock 
to Asclepius ; will you remember to pay the debt ? ' 
' The debt shall be paid,' said Crito ; * is there anything 
else ? ' There was no answer to this question, but in 
a minute or two a movement was heard, and the 
attendants uncovered him; his eyes were set, and 
Crito closed his eyes and mouth. 

" Such was the end, Echecrates, of our friend ; con- 
cerning whom I may truly say, that of all the men 
of his time whom I have known, he was the wisest 
and justest and best"^ 

^ Pha:do, 115 s^. 




The legacy of Socrates to his age was a spirit rather 
than a system. Disciples of his founded schools in 
which certain elements of his teaching were developed. 
There were Socratic schools; in a strict sense there 
could hardly be said to be a Socratic school. New 
emphasis and new interpretations came, and the unity 
was broken. So much of it centred in the man. He 
exemplified his own idea of method as none other. 
No successor bent the bow of Odysseus. He was 
faithful to his own moral ideal. Elements of weak- 
ness in his treatment of individual ethics remained 
ineffective to harm so long as, in his own person, the 
practice stood for evidence of the theory. But the 
unity of the whole was as much in the happy com- 
bination of elements in him as in the theoretic 
harmony of his system, if such it could be called; 
and at his death each group that deserved the name 
of a school appeared to have made off with one of 
the broken pieces. His greatest disciples were the 
two to whom we owe mainly our knowledge of him, 
Xenophon and Plato. The first of these has disclosed 
himself to us in the study of his reports and remarks, 
and the strictly Socratic element in the second has 




also been drawn upon : the immense system of Platon- 
ism proper lies without our purview. 

But as the outcome of the work of some of his 
associates, several schools of thought sprang up which 
ask, in closing: our account of Socrates, the briefest 
notice ; Eucleides of Megara had been a disciple, and 
was reported to have given protection to the friends 
of Socrates who left Athens after their master's death. 
He joined the metaphysics of Parmenides to the ethics 
of Socrates. The really existent was one, and it was 
identical with the good, knowledge of which was the 
end of life. He and his followers were fascinated by 
the refutative method of Socrates, and in their liands 
it degenerated frequently into the production of 
logical puzzles and traps depending on undetected 

The Cynic school was founded by Antisthenes, who 
has been called "the philosopher of the proletariat." 
Philosophy was to him less the satisfaction of an 
intellectual need than a scheme of conduct. His views 
in logic, derived from the scepticism of Gorgias, only 
permitted of the validity of identical judgments, and 
made all scientific movement impossible. In ethics, 
he held to his master's doctrine of the identity of 
virtue and knowledge. The virtuous man was self- 
sufficient, in the sense in which Socrates had explained 
the self-sufficiency of the gods; they had no wants, 
neither had he. This independence involved discipline 
by means of which we were delivered from bondage 
to artificial wants and got behind all conventions to 
true nature. The interpretation put by some Cynics 
upon this theory, which aims to reach virtue through 
self-control, and to control self by limiting it, led to 



disregard of things good as well as evil: "the later 
Cynics made it a point to disregard all decency and 
social conventions" (Wallace). But these men repre- 
sented the parody of the better elements in the school. 
Antisthenes himself, though preaching and practising 
a naturalistic morality, fell short of the gross ex- 
travagances of some of his followers. In religion 
he contradicted Greek polytheism, affirming with 
greater clearness than his master the unity of God, 
the valuelessness of religious rites, virtue being the 
only acceptable worship, and an anticipation of human 
brotherhood in the conception of membership in a 
universal society of the virtuous. The school of 
Antisthenes owed much of its celebrity to his eccen- 
tric disciple Diogenes, and to the perpetuation in an 
ennobled fashion of its better elements in Stoicism. 

Aristippus of Cyrene, with interests as entirely 
ethical as those of Antisthenes, held an opposite ideal 
of life. Socrates had taught that for man the only 
happiness was virtue. It was natural and right to 
seek happiness, but it would not be found save along 
this path. Aristippus seized on the element of eudse- 
monism in the teaching, and said pleasure was the end 
of life; and developed his view with clearness and 
consistency. Holding a sensational doctrine of know- 
ledge vrhich limited certainty to the experience of the 
moment, pleasure, interpreted as "the sensation of 
gentle motion," became the "chief good." No quali- 
tative difference can be considered. Pleasures of all 
sorts are good, in so far as they are pleasures. It is 
all a question of how we may get the greatest amount. 
Life is a sum set in the addition of pleasures. Reason 
shows a man how to set to work. An element of 



calculation introduced into the mind by philosophy^ 
will show how to select among competing attractions 
those that oflfer the best bargains in being followed by 
least of a reaction in the way of suffering. 

It may be conceded that the conception of a man*s 
adjustment to life was, in the theory of Aristippus, 
closer to Socrates than the Cynicism it opposed. His 
idea of self-mastery was not mutilation in the sense of 
absolute renouncement, but use. The Cynic sought to 
eliminate or starve desire; but the life so ruled was 
in danger of being a barren heritage. The Cyrenaic 
believed in gratifying desire within limits ruled by a 
quantitative measure of happiness. This could be so 
presented as to wear the appearance of the Socratic 
" using the world as not abusing it " ; yet it lay open 
to the most sweeping deductions from the first prin- 
ciple of making the single, momentary pleasure the 
end ; and, in practice, proved defenceless against 
egoistic and degenerate interpretations. It passed 
into Epicureanism. 

All these were partial and seriously defective inter- 
pretations of fragments of Socratic theory. The one 
man who " plucked out the heart of its mystery " and 
made what it yielded him the starting-point of a philo- 
sophy worthy to succeed it was Plato. In him the 
conceptions of Socrates became pre-existent ideas, the 
archetypes in the mind of God, and in the ideal world 
of whose unity they are members, of all existing 
things. These the soul has seen in its prior existence, 
and of them it becomes reminiscent, through the disci- 

^The view is quite modern. Cf. Pater, The Renaissance, p. 252. 
"For our one chance lies in expanding that interval, in getting as 
many pulsations as possible into the given time," etc. 



pline, initiated by Socrates, of the dialectic method. 
The supreme idea is goodness, indistinguishable from 
God, whom the soul, wrought into harmony by justice, 
may know and be conformed to. Socrates has not left 
us a line ; but the reverence and love of his disciple is 
not content to preserve him in his pages, but would 
fain give him the glory not only of the germinal 
thought but of the expanded system, by making him 
the mouthpiece of his deepest teaching. In Plato the 
movement begun by Socrates passed into philosophy 
with a power that through the homely records of Xeno- 
phon it could never have possessed. Untransformed, it 
knew in the partial representations of the " Imperfect 
Socratics " only mutilation. It really died with its 
beginner, to live anew in that system about which 
Saint Augustine wrote : " Plato made me know the 
true God. Jesus Christ showed me the way to Him." 
The purpose of the life of Socrates can never be 
justly treated by limiting examination to the thinker or 
inquirer. His lifelong aim was to implant a new soul 
in Athens. The philosopher in him was the servant of 
the moral reformer. An illumined mind and a changed 
life, and the second through the first— this was his 
dream for the men of his day. Character must be 
built on knowledge. The Greek people " did not know, 
they did not consider." In a wisdom abstractly con- 
ceived, as the Hebrew conception was personal, but 
with kindred moral power in it, lay, he believed, the 
salvation of his countrymen. There were many men 
in Athens, no doubt, concerned about faith and morals, 
in a time when elements of degeneracy were present 
and threatening increase. But they had not got to the 
importance of the moral unit. They believed there 



could be a revival of earnestness and integrity, rever- 
ence and purity, on the old lines of a literal acceptance 
of the existing fabric of faith and government. They 
were anxious not so much in the first place to save the 
individual Athenian from himself and his evils, as to 
preserve a fabric which they regarded as safeguarding 
all within its walls. Socrates had reached a point far 
beyond all that. His constant anxiety is first about 
men and last about men. He was fighting as the 
prophets fought, though in strangely difierent guise, 
for a State composed of citizens morally reformed, 
enlightened, and disciplined ; a State whose institutions 
should be established according to right reason, and 
continually subject to its review. He had parted essen- 
tially with faith in forms, and was operating on the 
spirit. He longed to win men to a view -point like his 
own in the talk with Hippias or in the Crito, where 
the law without had become by reflection and free 
choice the inner law, and was obeyed not because of 
some mysterious origin, or under the claim of mere 
authority, but because men saw its reasonableness 
and necessity, and so adopted it for themselves;^ 
because they saw that this was the point where the 
divine and human standards touched. 

The question of the seat of authority has lasted 
through the ages, and the Socratic transference of it 
to the reflective reason, of which his very discussions 
on piety and justice were the claim, demanded an 
insight and a moral earnestness too great for the mass 
of his fellows. The trend of progress of the human 
mind was with him. But he was inviting his country- 
men to tread a lonely path, which many of them 

J Cf. Zeller, p. 227. 



doubtless were shrewd enough to see, might lead them, 
as it led him, to the Court of the Helia3a and the con- 
demned cell in the interests of that higher law which 
they alone might see. This was one reason of the 
failure of his work. The attitude he wanted men to 
take was a Protestant attitude, the attitude of a dis- 
senter from the blind acceptance of conventions in 
faith and morality, or from that still worse spirit that 
evaded obligation through a flippant scepticism or 
moral indiflerence. And he found comparatively few 
prepared to run the material risks. 

It is foolish to criticise men for the lack of what 
they could not have, and it is no condemnation of 
Socrates that the problem of individual renewal, which 
was the problem of Israel too, was not solved on any 
great scale in Athens four hundred years before Christ. 
But it is, perhaps, legitimate to emphasize the ignoring 
in Socrates of those elements in human nature to 
which spiritual forces make their appeal, and which 
they summon as their allies — the feelings and the will. 
The ordinary man will never be reasoned into the 
kingdom of God. Neither in Jerusalem nor Athens 
does the average man conceal an untrained philosopher. 
And it was not to the average man that Socrates made 
his appeal. It was to men like Aristodemus and 
Euthydemus. It was to incipient thinkers ; it was to 
men who had shed much of their ancestral faith ; who 
had experienced in some degree what educated Brah- 
mins are experiencing to-day. These men he could 
often prevent from slipping into unfaith, and lead them 
on to spirituality of interpretation. If such men would 
follow him along the track of right reason, he believed 
he could lead them to a spot where a purer creed grew. 



But to the common heart, to the mind incapable of 
dialectical training, there was no appeal. Feeling must 
be enlisted in the spiritual warfare, and his appeal to 
it in the idealisation of friendship between disciples 
falls faint beside the appeal that seeks love as the 
fulfilling of the law ; and that, not love to the bare and 
abstract ideal, but to the man in whom it breathes. 

Virtue wanted nothing, Antisthenes said, but the 
" strength of Socrates." And that virtue was no flaw- 
less ideal, but such as many could hope to realise. 
It was here that the impotence of ideals to work 
manifested itself. The Socratic ideal is limited in 
its range of appeal; it has the narrowness of a 
system intellectual and a3sthetic in its root 'concep- 
tions, rather than moral; and it lacks strength to 
win fulfilment. If expansion in the realm of ideas 
is a real experience, so increase in the volume of 
spiritual force is a real experience to the world and 
to the individual. This was the Athenian problem ; it 
was the Jewish problem ; it is the universal problem. 
And it involves no diminution of the world's indebted- 
ness to the sages of heathendom to believe that the 
victorious answer is in Him who gives to men power 
to become sons of God. 


Accusation, the, of Socrates, 

Admetus, character of, 49. 
jEschiues, disciple of Socrates, 

.ffischylus — 
ethics in, 22. 

contrast with Sophocles, 29. 
Alcestis of Euripides, 48. 
Alcibiades — 

friend of Socrates, 68. 
testimony to Socrates in Sym- 
posium quoted, 68, 69. 
political conduct hurtful to So- 
crates at time of accusation, 
Alopece, deme in which Socrates 

born, 53. 
Anaxagoras — 
his views, 84. 

Socrates said to be a disciple of, 
54; Socrates' disappointment 
with, because of inconsis- 
tency, 57 ; criticism of, by 
Socrates, 59 ; confusion of 
position of Socrates witli 
that of, 251. 
Anaximander, views of, 75, 76. 
Anaximenes, philosophy of, 76. 
Ancient Greek ethics — 

relation of Socrates to, 256. 
Antigone, the, of Sophocles, 18. 

of Euripides, 48. 
Antiphon, conversation of Socrates 
with, 161. 


Antisthenes — 

head of Cynic school, 266. 
doctrine of, only permits identi- 
cal judgments, 266. 
Socratic teaching, to what ex- 
tent retained and modified 
by, 266, 267. 
Anytus — 

an accuser of Socrates, 241. 
character of, 248. 
reasons for opposition, 247. 
a democrat in politics, 248. 
conservative type of mind, 247, 

enemy of Sophists, 241. 
allusions to, in MenOy 241. 
,, in Apology, 249. 

Apology, the, of Plato — 

quoted 63, QQ, 141, 160, 195, 
196, 199, 200, 207, 221, 243, 
245, 249-256. 
tone of Socrates in, 254, 255. 
description of call and work, 250. 
ambiguous on immortality, 256. 
shows misunderstanding which 
finally crushed Socrates, 261. 
Arginusse, trial of generals in com- 
mand at, 62. 
conduct of Socrates at trial, 62, 
63, 254. 
Aristippus — 
conversation with Socrates, 138, 

discipleship, 267. 
subsequent development, 268. 



Aristippus — continued. 

theoretical and practical hedon- 
ism, 268. 
Aristophanes caricatures Socrates, 

66, 246. 
Aristotle — 
testimony as to opinions of 

Socrates, 101. 
denies that Socrates is father of 

Platonic idealism, 112. 
denies Socratic doctrine of iden- 
tity of knowledge and virtue, 
criticism of position, 186, 187. 
Asclepius, injunction to make 
otfering to, in last words of 
Socrates, 72, 264. 
Aspasia, allusions to, as teacher of 

Socrates, 56, 201. 
Athens — 
legend of Theseus, 71, 261. 
people of, 16, 17, 18, 257, 259, 

260, 261. 
conditions in war with Sparta 

and after, 6, 7, 8. 
change of thought at, 18, 99, 259. 
loved by Socrates, 67. 
contemporary opinion at tinje of 
death of Socrates, 242, H6- 
political feeling, 16. 
democratic opposition to thinkers 
sympathetic with oligarchy, 
religion, 20, 259 f. 
Atomic philosophy, 91. 
Authorities for Socratic teaching, 

Bacchcc, the, of Euripides, quoted, 

45, 46. 
Banquet, the, quoted. See Sym- 

Being, Parmenides' doctrine of, 80, 

Brand is, view of, as to daimonion, 


Cebes, disciple of Socrates, 232, 

Character of Socrates, 60-63, 68,264. 
moral strength of, 185, 272. 
close connection of, with ethical 
views, 185. 
Charge, the, laid against Socrates, 
its falsity, 258. 
Charmides, notoriety of, reflected 
on Socrates, 248. 
the dialogue, 160. 
temperance of, 204. 
counsel of Socrates to, 207. 
Civil life, the daimonion forbids 

Socrates to enter, 60. 
Cleon, death of, 61. 
Clouds, The, of Aristophanes, So- 
crates attacked in, QQ, 246. 
Conceptions, Socrates' philosophy 
of, 115 f. 
developed by Plato into " ideas," 

ground cleared for, 116 f. 
positive statements, 137-141. 
how gained, 141. 
method of proof by, 143-150. 
some Socratics refrain from, 266. 
Condemnation of Socrates — 
what led to the, 244-249. 
question of its justice or in- 
justice, 258-261. 
Connus, reputed instructor of So- 
crates in music, 56. 
Consciousness of aim and right 
action in teacliing of Socrates, 
Contemporaries, Socrates' relation 
to, 244-249. 

one of the "Thirty," 128. 
enjoins silence on Socrates, 128. 
Socrates' friend at first, 248. 
character of, 249, 258. 
Socrates blamed as teacher of, 
Crito, friend of Socrates, 54, 64 ; 

the dialogue historical, 72 ; 

obedience to laws in, 141 ; 

argues against flight in, 165 ; 

death in, 237 ; forgiveness in, 




Cynic school, the — 

origin, 266. 

ethical principles and practice, 

the individual and society in 
teaching of, 266. 

Socratic doctrine retained and 
rejected, 266, 267.^ 

crudities and eccentricities of, 
Cyrenaics, the — 

relation of, to Socrates, 267. 

ethics of, 267. 

happiness, view of, 267. 

relativity of, 267. 
Cyropaedeia — 

Cyrus' death in, record of, repre- 
sents Xenophon's preserva- 
tion of Socratic teaching, 

Daimonion, the, of Socrates, 221. 
See under Socrates also, 
various views of, 223. 
nature of, 225, 228, 231. 
no justification for charge of 
bringing in '*new divini- 
ties," 258. 
Socrates' teaching as to, 236-240, 

his own death, 165, 253, 255, 256, 
Defence. See Apology. 
Delos — 

confederacy of, 5. 
sacred embassy to, 71, 261. 
oracle of, believed in by Socrates, 
213, 226. 
,, call of, to Socrates, 60, 

„ Xenophon's consulta- 
tion of, 102. 
Dialectic — 

Socratic discipline and art of, 

116 f., 134 f. 
Platonic elements in, 143. 
importance of, for Socratic philo- 
.sophy, 141. 

Diogenes, the Cynic, 267. 
Diotima, reputed teacher of So- 
crates, 201. 

Echechrates, friend named in 

Plimdo, 264. 
Education — 
Greek, 17. 
of Socrates, 53, 54. 
Elea, school of, 80. 
Electra of Euripides, references to, 

40, 42-44. 
Empedocles, views of, 82-84. 
End, notion of, governing ethical 
doctrine, 179. 
doctrine of design, 216-219. 
Epicureanism, 268. 
Eristic — 

the Eidliydemus a picture of, 

developed by Megarian Socratics, 
Eros, the Socratic, a consecration 
of friendship to philosophy, 
142, 203 f. 
Ethics — 
Socratic theory of virtue, 155 f., 

159 f., 175, 179. 
examination of, 183 f. 
reflective standard as against 

custom, 150, 168, 208. 
not uniformly consistent, 139, 

relation to ethics of time, 166, 
168, 176, 178, 202, 203, 206, 
various particular virtues, 195 f. 
real contribution of Socrates to, 

150, 258, 265, 269. 
emphasis on inner standard, 226, 
252, 258, 270. 
Eucleides of Megara, 266. 
Eudremonism — 

the, of Socrates, 159, 163, 164, 

165, 167, 176. 
and hedonism, Socratic incon- 
sistency, 161, 167. 
Eumenides, representation of, by 
/Eschylus evidencing change 
of moral feeling, 23, 35. 



Euripides — 
man of transition, 36, 37, 41, 52. 
sympathy with philosophic 

thought, 52. 
a rationalist and humanist, 37, 

43. 47, 51. 
references to, 38-51. 
Euthydemus — 
disciple of Socrates, conversations 
with, on justice and the 
good, 123 f., 173, 175, 176. 
the dialogue, 160. 
Euthyphron — 

the dialogue, 116, 160. 
the man, 117. 
credulity of, 117, 214, 215. 
nature of piety sought in, 117 f. 
Evenus, exaction of fees by, 250. 

Family, Greek view of, 14-17, 

Fouillee, exaggeration of system in 

statement of Socratic doctrine, 

Friendship, Socrates on, 203-205. 


Socratic belief in unity of, state- \ Heracleitus, 79. 

Greece — 

state ideal, the, of, 1, 9, 10, 12, 
14, 15. 

ideal life of citizens, 13. 

the family in, 14-16. 

religion in, 20, 21, 23-35, 37-46, 

ethics in, 25, 33, 34, 38, 42, 43, 45. 

reflection in (pre-Socratic), 17, 
19, 20-52, 73-100. 

state of Greek mind when So- 
crates appeared, 19, 52. 

Sophists' influence, 94-100. 
Grote — 

view of Sophists, 95. 

on death of Socrates, 258. 

Athenian partialities of, 242. 

Hecuba, the, of Euripides quoted, 

38, 39, 43, 46, 47, 51. 
Hegel — 
view of work of Socrates, 137. 
,, daimonion, 226. 
Helen, the, of Euripides quoted, 

43, 46, 48, 51. 
Hellas, Aristotle's hint of concep- 
tion of united, 257. 

ments verbally inconsistent, 

equivalent to world-mind, 215. 
man shares in reason of, as body 

in matter of world, 215, 216, 

charge of unbelief in, repelled, 

Good, the — 

no scientific definition of, 181. 
utilitarian interpretation of, 157, 

158, 162. 

Heracles, choice of, theme of Pro- 
dicus quoted in Memor., 162. 

Homer, religion of, criticised by 
Socrates, 117, 214. 

Ideal, the Socratic, 176, 177, 197. 
Ideal interpretation of Socratic 

teaching byPlato, 104, 109,112. 
Idealism developed by Plato from 

Socratic conceptions, 112, 182, 


Ideas of Plato, 233, 234. 
intellectual element in act quali- Ignorance, Socratic — 

fies it as good, 163, 168, aim to produce, by discipline of 

Megarian doctrine of, 266. 
Cynic ,*, 266. 

Cyrenaic ,, 267. 

Gorgias, the — 
doctrine of forgiveness in, com- ! 

method, 115, 130, 136, 142. 
Immortality — 

Socratic doctrine of, 236-239. 
Platonic ,, 231-236. 

Individual, in Socratic ethics, 150, 

pared with Memorabilia, Iphigeneia in Taurica of Euripides 
256, 257. I quoted, 42. 



Iphigeiieia at Aulis of Euripides 

quoted, 43, 45, 50. 
Irony, Socratic, 142. 

Justice, definition of, discussed 
with Euthydemus, 123 f., 126. 

Knowledge, in Socratic teaching — 
is of conceptions, 145. 
does not examine things in sense 

of natural science, 148-150. 
ideal of, inspires search, 100, 115, 

132, 133, 136, 137, 141, 142, 

** Virtue is knowledge," 155, 169, 

176, 177. 
criticism of Socratic doctrine, 

self-knowledge, 173. 

Leon of Salamis, 63, 254. 

Life of Socrates, 53-72, 241-264. 

Literature recording moral move- 
ment in Greece previous to 
Socrates and contemporary 
with him, 22-52. 

Man, Socratic view of essential 

nature of, 169-171. 
Marathon, 5. 

Means and ends— design argu- 
ment, 216-219. 
Megarians, Socratic school of the — 

teachingof, logical fallacies of, 266. 
Meletus, an accuser of Socrates, 242. 

character of, 71. 

answer of Socrates to, 251, 253. 
Memorabilia, the, of Xenophon — 

nature of composition, 102, 105, 
107-109, 111. 

quoted, jiassijn. 
Meno, the — 

dialogue quoted, 130. 

contains both Socratic and Pla- 
tonic teaching, 160, 232. 

Reminiscence in, 143. 
Method, Socratic, 114 f. 
Military Service of Socrates, 61, 62, 

127, 252. 
Morals. See Ethics. 

Nature-philosophy, the — 

dominance of, before Socrates, 

73 f. 
rejection of, by Socrates, 57-59. 
Socratic ideas as to nature, 55, 


(Edipus Coloneus, the, of Sophocles 

quoted, 33, 35. 
(Edipus Tyrannus, the, of Sophocles 

quoted, 34. 
Olympian gods, stories of the, 

decried, 42, 43, 117, 214, 


Parmenides — 

philosophy of, 80-82. 
doctrine of, reappears in Megarian 
teaching, 266. 
Partisanship in Athens as affect- 
ing the accusation and con- 
demnation of Socrates, 247. 
248, 261. 
Peloponnesian War, the — 
cause of, 5. 
eff'ects of, 18, 133. 
environing large part of active 
life of Socrates, 6. 
Pericles — 
Athens in time of, 7, 8, 19, 133, 

city and people idealised by, 242. 
Persians, the — 

war against, 4, 5, 21, 22. 
illustrations from life of, used by 
Xenophon, 110, 153. 
Ph(xdo, the — 
account of rejection of philosophy 

of nature in, 56-59. 
mainly, if not entirely, non- 
Socratic in thought, 231, 
arguments of, noticed, 232-236. 
death of Socrates in, 261-264. 
the disciple, 261. 
Phcedrus, the — 

character of, 220, 229. 

the "daimonion" in, 221, 226, 

prayer of Socrates in, 220. 



Philosopliy, early, in Greece — " 
not distinguished from physical 

science, 75, 76, 78, 89, 94. 
how working in literature and 
life before, and in time of 
Socrates, 21, 36, 52. 
Sophists' relation to, 94-100. 
Physics, abandoned by Socrates, 

56-59, 233. 
disciple of Socrates, 103. 
Socratic dialogues of, 104, 105, 

107, 160. 
diflBculty of clear discrimination 

as to, 105, 109, 160. 
Aristotelian criterion of Socratic 

matter, 101, 109, 112. 
character of Socrates given by, 
262, 264. 
endurance, 61. 
courage, 62, 63, 252. 
temperance, 197. 
style of speech, 128. 
effect of speech, 68, 69, 130. 
the daimonion, 221-231. 
account of ''call" and work 

of Socrates, 250, 252, 253. 
opposition to, accusation, trial 
and death of Socrates in, 
development of Platonism out 
of the Socratic teaching, 268, 
conceptions become subsis- 
tences, 112. 
main doctrines of, 235. 
views as to woman's capacity 
probably derived from Soc- 
ratic germs, 202. 
reality of things dependent on 

participation in ideas, 234. 
ideal state of, 15, 164, 202. 
Platonism transitional in de- 
velopments to Christian 
thought, 269. 
Politics, Greek — 

prior to and contemporary with 

Socrates, 2-8, 62, 207-209. 
influence on condemnation of, 
70, 242, 247-249, 260. 

Politics, Greek — continued. 

his reasons for abstention from, 
221, 253, 254. 
Pre-Socratic philosophy, 73 f. 
not distinguished from Natural 
Science in early stages, 75- 
85, 89, 91, 92. 
issue in scepticism, 94, 96-98. 
Prodicus, reputed teacher of Soc- 
rates, 56, 162. 
Protagoras — 
, scepticism of, 97. 
formula of "Man the measure 

of all things," 97. 
the dialogue. Hedonism of, 161, 
164, 166. 
Providence, teaching of Socrates 

on, 217. 
Prytanes, conduct of the, at trial 
of generals after Arginusce, and 
action of Socrates, 62, 63, 254. 
Prvtaneum, Socrates believes him- 
self worthy of maintenance in, 
71, 255. 
Pythagoras — 

work of, largely religious reform, 
76, 77. 
Pythagoreanism — 

philosophical system, 86, 87. 
numbers of, spatial, 88. 
cosmological applications, 88, 89. 
astronomy of, 89. 

Realism springs from Socratic con- 
ceptions, 112, 268. 
Reason-world, the — 
God conceived as, 215. 
reason in man a spark of, 170, 216. 
Religion — 

the purified, of Socrates, 212-217. 
arguments used by Socrates 

dangerous to Greek, 215. 
service of the gods moral, 212. 
sacrifice, 219. 
prayer, 220. 
Republic, the, idea of justice taught 
in, 164, 186. 

Scepticism in Greece, 18, 22. 
in poets and thinkers, 36, 37, 
41-43, 94-100. 



Scepticism — continued. 

philosophic, in some Socratics, 
Sceptics, views of knowledge and 
truth of, 89, 90, 94, 96-99,266. 
Self-control, 176. 

interpreted by Cynics, 266, 267. 
Self-knowledge, Socrates on, 173. 
Sifting process in Socratic dialectic, 

116-130, 136, 137, 142. 
Slavery, left practically untouched 

in Socratic ethics, 210, 211. 
Society, service to, in Socratic 

ethics, 167, 168. 
Socrates — 

birth and parentage, 53. 

education, 53-56. 

circumstances, 64. 

marriage, 63-66, 203. 

State 3er\nces, 60-63, 206, 207. 

philosophic ''call" and mission, 

66, 212. 
mode of life, 66, 67. 
mode of teaching, 67. 
influence, 68, 69. 
enmities, 69, 70, 244, 245, 247- 

accusation, trial, and death, 

70-72, 241 f. 
the teaching of — 
philosophic point of dei)arture, 

94, 100. 
interpretations of, Platonic and 
Xenophontic,101 f.; Platonic 
idealising, 104, 105 ; Xeno- 
phontic historic fiction, 106, 
108, 110 ; criteria, 112, 113. 
prominence of negative criti- 
cism, 114, 115. 
positive element in Xenophon, 

search for knowledge, 115 ; 
gets instances for definitions, 
sifting of provisional defini- 
tions, 116 f.,123 f. ; dialogues 
of search, 126-128 ; home- 
liness of language and illus- 
trations, 128, 129 ; skilful- 
ness of application of sifting 
process, 129. 

Socrates — continued. 

the teaching of — continued 

supposition that Socratic doc- 
trine wholly negative, from 
prominence of negative ele- 
ment, 129 ; Meno quoted, 
130 ; Xenophon labours to 
dispel this idea, 130 ; modern 
agreement in view, e.g. 
Grote, 131, 132. 

no denial of knowledge in 
Socrates, 132 ; idea of know- 
ledge spring of philosophic 
activity, 133; absence of 
elaborate system in in- 
quiries, 134, 135 ; but a 
certain unity of method, 
iconoclasm first, 136 f. ; yet 
a positive philosophic ele- 
ment, 138, 141. 

summary of philosophic pro- 
cedure, 141 f. ; induction and 
definition, 143 f. ; and deduc- 
tion, 147 ; character of work, 
loose and spontaneous, but 
making use of reflection, 148 f. 
ethics — 

suj)remacy of moral interest, 
151 ; intellectual form of 
moral mission, 151, 152 ; 
other interests, 152-154 ; 
search for rational basis of 
action, 155 ; virtue is wis- 
dom, 155 ; relativity, 157 f. 

eudsemonism, 159 ; difficulty 
in fixing position, 159 ; 
question of sources, 160 ; 
hedonism of Protagoras, a 
provisional theory, 161 ; 
utilitarian character of 
ordinary reasonings, 161 ; 
yet a different type of utter- 
ance found, 163, 164 ; eu- 
daemonism not consistent, 
164, 165; happiness = self- 
realisation, 165 ; short of 
this open to criticism of 
happiness theory, 165 ; 
language sometimes eudae- 
monistic, sometimes hedon- 



Socrates — continued. 
ethics — cmitinued. 

istic but really the principle 
taught never purely self- 
regarding, 167, 168. 

principle, eudjemonist in ex- 
pression, transformed by 
intellectualism, 168, 169 ; 
ideal springs from view of 
nature of man as essentially 
rational, 169-171. 

knowledge, basal thing in com- 
plex ideal, self-realisation is 
illumination, 172 ; beginning 
is conscious ignorance, 173. 

some elements of knowledge 
exist in mind, 174 ; teaching 
here borders on Platonism, 
175 ; nature of knowledge of 
good desired, 175 f. ; reasons 
for the identification of virtue 
and knowledge, 178. 

criticism of view, 179 f.; 
essence of moral constraint, 
182 ; this life treated as mor- 
ally self-sufficing, 183 ; fur- 
ther examination of genesis 
and quality of doctrine 
' 'Virtue is knowledge, " 1 83 f. 
Xenophon's view, 185 
Plato's, 186; Aristotle's, 187 
Defects of doctrine, 187-194 
truth in same, 194. 
particular virtues, teaching on — 

self-respect, 195. 

candour, 196. 

self-control, 197. 

humility (intellectual), 198. 

independence, 200. 

filial piety, 201. 

fraternal feeling, 201. 

estimate of woman, 201. 

friendship, 203 f. 

service to the State, 206, 207, 
see 60-63. The subjective 
principle of morals over- 
rides the State f)rinciple of 
authority, 208, 209. 

noproper universalism, nordoc- 
trine of anti-slavery, 210, 21 1 . 

Socrates — continued. 
Religion — 

a religious nature, 212. 

ethics not strictly independent, 

creed rationalised, 213. 

worship and prayer, 213, 214, 
219, 220. 

inconsistent language as to 
God, 214 f. 

theistic reasoning on creation, 
216, 217. 

providence, 217. 

remarks, 218, 219. 

anthropological view decides 
worship, 219. 

the ''sign," 220, 221. 

explanations advanced, 222 f. 

not a "genius," 224. 

nor insanity, 224, 225. 

nor hallucination, 224, 225. 

nor limited to conscience, 225, 

a genuine experience of spiri- 
tual guidance, 221, 222, 230, 

immortality, 231 f. 

testimonies in Xenophon, 

232, 237. 
testimonies in Socratic dia- 
logues, 231, 236, 237. 
Charge against and condemnation 
of Socrates — 

charge, 241, 242 ; anti-religious 
teaching not proven, 243 ; 
causes of hostility personal, 
244, 245 ; arising from mis- 
take as to philosophic posi- 
tion, 245-247 ; and, chiefly, 
political, 247-249 ; answer 
directed to prejudice against 
him as a philosopher, 242, 
243, 244, 249 ; not a natural 
philosopher, 249 ; nor a 
Sophist, 250 ; nor a corrupter 
of the youth, 251 ; nor an 
atheist, 251 ; declines to 
cease from mission, 252 ; 
defends non-participation in 
public life, 253 ; appeals as 



Socrates — continued. 

to facts to persons present, 
254 ; declines to make ap- 
peals ad misericordiam, 254 ; 
first vote and suggested fine, 
254,255; secondvoteand ver- j 
diet of death, 255 ; defends 
course of action adopted, 
255; and addresses those who 
have voted for acquittal, 255 ; 
questions of forgiveness of 
enemies, 256, 257 ; Athenian 
culpability, 257 f. ; death, 
261 f. 
spirit of philosophy of, passes 

into Platonism, 269. 
final estimate, philosopher servant 
to moral reformer in Socrates, 
269 f. 

Socratic schools, the, 266-269. 

Sophists, the — 

what they were, 94, 95 ; relation 
of, to philosophy, 95-99 ; 
spirit of, 95-99 ; education 
imparted by, 99, 100 ; ration- 
alistic principles of, 97, 98 ; 
aims and position in public 
life of Greece, 96, 99 ; Soc- 
ratic opposition to, 247 ; 
satisfy needs of time plaus- 
ibly during transition from 
older views to new thought, 
94 ; build on nescience 
brought in by contentions 
of natural philosophers, 96 f. ; 
practical teachers of politi- 
cians and others, 246 ; effect 
on time, 247 ; similarity of 
Socrates to, in many ways, 
246 ; no true ])hilosophic 
base, 247 ; rhetoricians, 55, 
56; "vendors of common- 
place," 247 ; an additional 
dissolving force in Athens, 
247 ; took fees, 55, 250 ; no 
one school of thought, but a 
class of specialists in educa- 
tion, 95; expediency mongers, 
99, 100. 

Sophocles quoted from in illustra- 

So]}\\OGles— continued. 

tion of problems of morals and 
faith, 26, 27, 28, 33-35. 
views on fate compared with 
those of iEschylus, 29-34. 

Sophroniscus, father of Socrates, 53. 

Spartan ideals and discipline, 15, 16. 
favourite state of Greek thinkers, 

State, ideal of in Greek mind, 1, 2, 
9, 10 ; claim on citizens, 10-12, 
14-16 ; gain and loss of partial 
realisations of, 16, 17 ; rising 
spirit of self-assertion in Soc- 
rates' time, 17-19 ; views of 
Socrates as to service due to, 
167, 168, 207 ; incompatibility 
of gi'ound principle — authority 
— with Socratic subjective 
standards, 206-209. 

Stoicism developed from noble ele- 
ments in Cynicism, 267. 

Subjective principle in Socratic 
philosophy, 206-209, 226, 270. 

Symjjosium, the, of Plato, quoted, 
68, 69 ; picture of Socrates in, 
197 ; Symposium of Xenophon 
imaginative but ideally true of 
lighter side, 153. 

Thales, 74, 75. 

Thecetetus, the, quoted, 97, 143, 221. 

Thucydides, the Melian massacre, 

Tragedy, Greek faith and morals 

shown in, 22-51. 

Unity, national, in modern sense, 
not found in ancient Greece, 

Utilitarianism in Socrates, 137-139, 
157-159, 161, 162 ; inconsis- 
tencies, 163-169 ; Socrates 
ordinarily eudsemonist in Xeno- 
phon, 159, 160 ; in Plato certain 
dialogues support this, others 
in flat contradiction with it, 
160, 161, 164, 165 ; utterances 
of non-utilitarian type must 
be considered, 162 f. 



T, and T. Clark's Publications. 

Virtue, intellectual conception of, 
168 f. ; the doctrine "Virtue is 
knowledge," 156, 157, 177 f. ; 
interpretation of this doctrine 
by Cynics and Cyrenaics, 266, 

Wisdom, 155, 156, 164, 170, 175, 

176 f. 
Worship, 213, 214, 219, 220. 

Xanthippe, wife of Socrates, 64, 

65, 261-263. 
Xenophanes, 78, 79. 
Xenophon, 101 ; character of, 103, 

104 ; relation to Socrates, 101- 
103; nature of his ''notes," 
105-109 ; comparison with 
Plato, 103-105, 111 ; philoso- 
phic inaptitude, 103-105 ; ob- 
jection to history of, because 
written to support thesis, 105- 
109 ; tendency to historical 
fiction, 108 ; elements in, op- 
posed to general idea of Soc- 
rates, 110 ; the Aristotelian 
criteria, 111, 112 ; immortality 
in, 232, 236-238. 

Zeno of Elea, 89, 90. 



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